At 100, this bartender is still the toast of his town

January 19, 2012

Tending bar can be exhausting at any age, but 100-year-old Ray Nauroth is still going strong. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night you can find him slinging cocktails at The Gold Slipper in Dunlap, Iowa, the supper club where he’s worked for the past 46 years.

“He does an awesome job and is a pleasure to work with,” says owner Nick Behrendt. “Everyone loves him.”

So when Ray hit the century mark last Friday night, the Gold Slipper threw a party in his honor. More than 600 people showed up to wish him well.

“I felt like a politician,” Nauroth told “I’ve never shook so many hands in my life.”

Although he stayed out until midnight and says he a wonderful time, Nauroth isn’t quite sure what all the fuss was about. “For me it was just another day,” he said.

For the Gold Slipper it was anything but. “It was the busiest night,” says Behrendt, who offered a $19.11 special dinner to commemorate the year Ray was born. For that price, customers got two sirloin steaks and a trip to the salad bar. “We served 220 of them that night,” he said.

Behrendt, who recently celebrated his fiftieth birthday, says the hardest thing about working with Ray is remembering that he is, in fact, 100 years old.

“I forget because he’s in such good shape,” Behrendt said. “I’ll hand him a case of beer to carry and then I’ll think, ‘Wait he shouldn’t be carrying a case of beer. He’s 100 years old!’ ”

Despite his advanced age, there are few things Nauroth can’t do. He lives alone in a two-story house, cooks, cleans, does laundry and drives himself to work. About the only thing his age has affected is his golf game. “I hurt my rotary cuff and my game got bad,” he said, “so I gave it up.”

Nauroth was born in nearby Earling, Iowa, and served overseas during World War II. He and his wife, Geraldine, a schoolteacher, raised three sons and a daughter. His wife passed away 17 years ago and his daughter died in 2006.

Before becoming a bartender, Nauroth worked as a tax collector for the state of Iowa. In 1965, he started working at the Gold Slipper and he’s been there ever since.

While he’s known for his grasshopper and pink squirrel cocktails, Nauroth says his favorite drink to serve is beer because “all you have to do is open a bottle.”

Nauroth draws a steady crowd, but prefers to work alone no matter how busy it gets. “Ray never loses his sense of humor,” Behrendt says. “He’s always in a good mood and has an answer for everything. Often, a smart-ass answer.”

For example: What's Ray's strategy for living to 100?

“My secret,” he told us, “is waking up every day.”

By Michelle Leifer

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