Vital Life Foundation
NINETY-NINE YEAR-OLD CONCENTRATION CAMP SURVIVOR ATTENDS BEETHOVEN’S SYMPHONY NO. 5 Margarita Binning to Watch Oregon Symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on October 31

October 26, 2009 – Ninety-nine year-old Margarita Binning’s life story reads like pages of a history book to which she will add another chapter on October 31. Administrators from Marquis Skilled Nursing at Vermont Hills, in conjunction with the New Chapters program, will take Margarita to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall two weeks before her 100 birthday. Here she will watch the Oregon Symphony perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, one of the most popular and well-known compositions in all of European classical music.  Marquis, a skilled nursing, assisted living and home health care company created the New Chapters Program to help senior citizens realize their lifelong dreams. 

Administrators first learned of Margarita’s love of classical music a month ago while exploring ideas for her New Chapters event.  Her eyes lit up when music was mentioned, highlighting classical music by performers such as Richard Strauss and George Frideric Handel because, as she claims, “The best music in the world comes from Germany.”

A Storied History
Margarita was born in Chile in 1909 to a family of five brothers and two sisters.  At the age of 14, she moved to the Netherlands where six years later she had her first child, named Margarita II.  The next eight years were filled with new children and a new love that took her from Holland to England and then finally on a ship to the Dutch East Indies, today known as Indonesia.

Soon after moving, military forces broke into what would soon become World War II. Imperial Japan joined the axis and went on to invade and eventually occupy the Dutch East Indies where a very pregnant Margarita and her husband were imprisoned due to their Dutch heritage on the island of Java.

It was there in the concentration camp that Margarita gave birth to her son, Lambert. Margarita’s half German daughter, now 12-years old, was not imprisoned at the time of her brother’s birth and was instructed by the head doctor to fetch a large cigar crate in which she was to place her brother.  Margarita’s children were both able to escape to safety with the help of a doctor who saw past race to the livelihood of a young child and his sister.

Margarita spent the next two years in the confines of the camp without her children. To stay busy she would try to help others who were sick with dysentery and disease.  Thankfully, Margarita was let go and taken to Bandung, a province on the island of Java where she was finally reunited with her two children.

Night at the Symphony
On Saturday, October 31st, Margarita will be dressing up in a hand-picked outfit from a personal shopper at Paloma Women’s Clothing.  After getting dolled-up, Margarita will be whisked away in a 1957 Bentley courtesy of Imperial Limousines to a dinner at Three Degrees on the Southwest Waterfront.  After dinner, Margarita and her party will make their way to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. All clothing, transportation, meals and symphony tickets have been donated by community businesses that recognize the importance of making one final dream come true for a woman who has lived a remarkable life.

When asked about the event, Margarita said, “I can’t believe this is happening to me. Life is so beautiful and everyone here is so loving.”  She went on to add, “Who cares about turning 100? I’m going to a symphony!”

About Marquis Companies
Marquis Companies provide skilled nursing, long-term care, assisted living and memory care throughout its 26 facilities in Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho and Nevada.  Marquis’ sister company, Consonus, provides pharmacy, rehabilitation, staffing and consulting to the long-term care community. Both family-owned companies share the mission to promote the vitality within everyone each company serves and its employees – and created its Vital Life Foundation to fulfill that mission. For more information, visit