Carson woman celebrates 100th birthday

Centanarian Edith Daniel smiles during her 100th birthday at her home in Carson City Tuesday morning. She said to her birthday guests, "I wish I could be around for your 100th birthday parties".   photo by Rick Gunn

Centanarian Edith Daniel smiles during her 100th birthday at her home in Carson City Tuesday morning. She said to her birthday guests, "I wish I could be around for your 100th birthday parties". photo by Rick Gunn

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On her 100th birthday, Edith Daniel was thinking Tuesday about how she almost didn't make it to her eighth birthday -- until she was rescued by the family dog.

Her long white hair pulled back in a pony tail with a purple-flowered tie, the Carson City resident celebrated her milestone with a niece and several friends, while enjoying cake and juice.

"You know, when I think back I say to myself, 'Where did all the years go?'" Daniel softly remarked.

Dressed in snappy red slacks and a purple coat, Daniel sat in her wheelchair surrounded by her niece, Judy Keller of Silver Springs, family friend Debbie Boda and caretakers Alice Wilson and Donna Asher, and began telling stories from her life.

Born March 26, 1902, in Saskatchewan, Canada, in a log cabin built by her father, Daniel told how the family dog, Chub, saved her from drowning in a well at the age of 7.

"It was hot summertime in July. My father was digging a new well and had left to go to town. Well, I had my own little bucket and went to get some of that water. It was cold -- nice and icy cold.

"I drew my bucket and sat it down on the ground. My father had covered the well opening with two old apple barrel covers. Well, I was stupid and walked right across the center -- the boards opened up and I went down and hit the water."

Daniel recalled being told that if a person went under water three times, they would not come back up. She went under once, twice and then for a third time. She thought to herself, "I gotta do something."

"I got my fingers on a ledge, maybe a quarter of an inch, and held on with my feet on just the other side. When I looked up, there was Chub looking at me."

Daniel told Chub to go get Bub, her brother. He looked at her, then took off.

"He went to the house, barked and scratched on the door to get Bub's attention, then took him by the pant leg and led him to where I was.

"My brother persuaded me to let go of the side (of the well) and grab the rope he lowered to pull me out -- and I got out. But, boy, that was a stupid thing to do, walk across those boards like that."

Diane Williams from the Division of Aging Services presented Daniel with a Silver State Centenarian Award.

"Well, what do you know!" responded Daniel with a big smile.

Also visiting Daniel on her special day was Marti Olson, senior services manager for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center. Daniel receives meals from the Meals on Wheels program and, as far as Olson knows, she is the only 100-year-old in the program.

"It's quite rare for someone to be independent and at home at her age," said Olson.

"I could only dream that I'd be like her with full mental capacity at that age. I think it's just beautiful. And she has the greatest stories."

Olson said Daniel also receives help from other programs that enable her to remain independent in her home.

But Daniel is not alone. She also has the company of her dog, Sally, a Briard, and Missy the cat.

Caretaker Wilson visits Daniel every day at 5 p.m. to be sure she has eaten and to feed the dog and cat. Asher visits her twice a week.

A family birthday celebration was held last week, with more of Daniel's family planning on making visits in the near future.

Daniel has no children and her husband, Charles, died in 1963.

She has been on an African safari and rode across the Nairobi Desert on a camel. The family moved to Corning, Calif., in 1919 (after she and a brother burned down the family cabin), where they opened the Corning Hotel and Restaurant. Daniel spent a short time in Long Beach, Calif., until moving to Carson City in 1971.

"She visited Carson City while on a bus trip," said Keller.

"She saw this house, bought it and moved in a week later. She told me this morning she doesn't know why she is still here. I told her it was because the Republicans weren't finished with her yet. And she said, 'That's right -- I just sent them a check.' "

Daniel said she is a person who's always had ambition, but she can't do much now because of her eyesight.

"If I could, I'd be a dressmaker because I've always worked with my hands," said Daniel.

"But it's a lonesome time now. I can't do anything. I can see at a distance, but I can't read or write. It's not a happy life to be this way."

Daniel picked up her fork with a bite of cake and toasted the room full of people, "Here's to you and many happy more to you."

With well wishes and a hug goodbye, family friend Boda said, "I'm glad you made it (to 100)."

To which Daniel replied, "I'm kind of glad I did, too."


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