April 18, 2014

Centenarians recognized at ceremony

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer poses with Elsie Toone, 104. Toone was one of seven honored guests at a ceremony recognizing those 100 years and older. Submitted photo

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer poses with Elsie Toone, 104. Toone was one of seven honored guests at a ceremony recognizing those 100 years and older. Submitted photo

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
Getting to the age of 100 isn’t as hard as it used to be. There are more than 70,000 centenarians in the United States, making them the fastest-growing segment of the population.
That’s the word from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services and Gov. Sam Brownback, who honored Kansas’ centenarians last week. Gov. Brownback was scheduled to deliver a speech and recognize Kansans over the age of 100 last week, but was side tracked by the impending winter storm on Feb. 20.
Instead, a handful of centarians gathered and heard remarks from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. One out of five children born today will live to be 100, he told the crowd.

Genieva McTaggert and Melda Cutting smile for the cameras during a ceremony honoring centernarians last week. There are an estimated 750 people over the age of 100 living in Kansas. Staff photo by Danedri Thompson

Genieva McTaggert and Melda Cutting smile for the cameras during a ceremony honoring centernarians last week. There are an estimated 750 people over the age of 100 living in Kansas. Staff photo by Danedri Thompson

“You are blazing a trail,” he said.
The wisdom of older people drove Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services Secretary Shawn Sullivan onto a career path that included their care, he told the audience of centenarians and their guests.
“You have lived through a lot of things,” he said. “You have a lot of things you can page 1
teach us younger generations.”
There are approximately 750 Kansans over the age of 100. The seven on-hand for the ceremony last week credited a variety of things for the longevity.
“No matter how young or old, you have to have a sense of purpose,” Sullivan said.
Melda Cutting, 101 of Ottawa, said she drove horses, cut hay and cultivated corn.
“I was a boy,” she said. “I did yard work. I loved bowling, golf, dancing.”
Genieva McTaggert, 100, also credited exercise and hard work.
“And I guess good, clean living,” she said. “I walked all of my life.”
Elsie Toone, 104, said your life is planned before you’re born, and you just live it the best you can. She recalled moments that changed her life and the world.
“When we got electricity and water in our house,” she said.
Mae Fern Smith, 100, said you have to live one day at a time.
“I never thought I’d live to be 100,” she said.
When he worked in a long-term care facility, Sullivan said he often asked residents what they’d learned and how they’d managed to live so long.
“I had a friend of mine tell me if I would drink whiskey and smoke cigars, I would live to be 100,” Sullivan said.
His grandmother offered different advice: “Not sitting in an outhouse while it’s being used for target practice,” he joked.

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