Colorado honors 10 Weld County residents who have reached 100 years old
May 19, 2017
On the rise
Since 2000, the number of Americans who celebrated their 100th birthday has increased more than 43 percent, reaching roughly 72,200 in 2014, the latest year for which U.S. Census Bureau data is available.
Fern Steele has lived on the Earth for more than a century.
She's happy to share the credit with her family for reaching that milestone.
"It's because of them I've lived to be 100," she said. "They're a loving, caring family."
Steele was one of 10 centenarians in Weld County — those who have reached 100 — who were honored Friday at the Greeley Senior Center, 1010 6th St. Surrounded by her family and friends, Steele accepted handshakes, congratulations, a letter from the president, a certificate from Gov. John Hickenlooper and two different kinds of cake, all to honor her making it past the 100-year mark.
The event was held to not only honor the local centenarians but all Coloradoans who will turn 100 this year. With roughly 650 residents age 100 or older, the state is home to one of the fastest-growing aging populations in the nation. By 2021, the number of centenarians statewide is expected to reach 1,100, according to the Colorado Commission on Aging.
Steele and her fellow centenarians said they have watched the nation change in ways they would have never guessed. The rise of electricity and conventional appliances, the growing traffic on America's roads and the adoption of cellphones all punctuated their lists.
Steele said she didn't even have indoor plumbing or running water growing up.
"The change is probably the most amazing thing," she said.
For other honored guests, such as Fayth Clark, being 100 means something pretty simple.
"It means you've lived a long time," she said.
Her secret to making it to 100 is walking hand-in-hand with Jesus, she said. As a devout woman, she said she's ready to see what's next for her in this life, and in the next.
"I'll say goodnight here and good morning up there," she said.
Gladys Myers was born in 1916. She said a lot has changed in her lifetime, and she is excited to see what come next. She said she turned 100 with a smile on her face.
"It's very exciting," she said. "It seems like every time I turn around I'm partying. I keep thinking everyday, 'What am I here for?' The good Lord got me here for something."