Older bettas are truly a joy. Many show fish have relatively short lives because of their power-packed schedule. Lots of shipping and water changes are very stressful, which in turn can lead to shorter total life. However, you can't say that they didn't live a full one!
As a breeder, I have quite a few fish. Nevertheless, I like to think that all of them are special. I keep records on their spawn dates, occasionally update their files with pictures, check them over them carefully with a bright light once every couple of days, and spend too much time doting over them at feeding time. I couldn't tell you exactly how many I have, but I could probably describe each one of them if you blindfolded me and then put my hand on their tank.
I do have favorites. My favorite fish by far was my pineapple traditional plakat. He didn't really have a name...nothing seemed to really fit for very long. I think I settled on Armando for a while. But he was just "The One" and had a special place right next to my bedside.
Armando is one of the last bettas from my very first successful yellow x red traditional plakat spawn (RY Trad 112512 - Thanksgiving), making him almost 3 and a half years old when he passed away. Despite this, he was still as fiery as he was in his prime! He was shipped and hand-carried into a lot of shows, and had many BOV shortfins under his belt (I'm not even sure how many). He was once in heavy contention for BOS at one CBS show, but was eventually knocked out by a huge doubletail because of his odd coloration and because he had been flaring for quite a long time and got tired at the end.