98-year-old Benicia driver hangs up her car keys for good

Flo Cooper is a remarkable and independent woman. This 98-year-old Benicia resident recently hung up her car keys and retired from driving.

KTVU's Claudine Wong reports on Flo's last drive. The words, 98-year-old driver might give you pause. Flo Cooper gets that.

"My hearing is disappearing," Cooper said. "I mean my eyes excuse me, my hearing is too," she laughs. "Everything is disappearing."

This is why she knows it is time to hang up those keys, but she'll also tell you, she's doing it with what she's pretty sure is a perfect driving record.

"But you never got a ticket?," Wong asked her. "No, I don’t remember ever getting a ticket." Nor does she remember ever getting into an accident.

Cooper has been driving since she turned 18 back in 1940. Do the math -- that's 80 years of driving.

"My dad taught me to drive on a Whippet," said Cooper.

"From the Whippet to the Model A, she's driven a few Fords, but now she's all about the Acura.

"So that’s the third one, and that’s the one I’m having trouble letting go, but I i’m going to do it, said Cooper to KTVU.

Flo offered some longevity tips:

"Secret of life -- having a good attitude and having hobbies;; things you like to do."  
She said her life has been very interesting -- full of RV travel and camping and family.

Before her husband of 60 years passed away, she was an avid painter
She is proud to show off her home, which she has lived in for forty years.

Cooper also takes time to read a good book, and snuggling with her cat.

 "He’s 18-years-old. He and I have aged together," said Cooper.

She will also tell you there are benefits to nightly martini's.

"Sapphire gin and I learned I didn't care too much for that other thing I put in the martini and so I just started using less and less, and then one day, I thought to myself, you don’t like it anyway, why put it in. So now, I drink straight gin with an ice cube or two."

Not driving anymore makes her a little sad,.but she's adapted a lot through the years.

"I would keep driving, but we think it’s a better idea for me to quit gracefull," said Cooper.

Her family says COVID-19 just convinced them it was time.

She can’t go into the stores at 98, so how long is it going to be until she drives again?

She's got plenty of family looking out for her, but goodbyes are hard. It is easy to get a little wistful as we watched her take a last spin. 

"I was thinking gee, this feels good," Cooper laughed. "But it’s just the way it is. It's the way life is -- whatever stage you're at, you learn to live with." 

The car gets a new home with her grandson.

Flo is not sure what she will do next, but she jokes she may be inspired when she sits down for her next glass of martini.

Flo says she may try her hand at piano.

By the way, the last time Flo said she renewed her license, she received a perfect score on her test