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Published: Monday, 7/14/2003

Low stress keeps her spry at 105

BY KARIN KOWALSKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER
`If any young man takes a fancy to me, I'm just as young as I can be,' says Annie Mitchell, celebrating her 105th birthday with her son, Alfred, during a meeting of union retirees. `If any young man takes a fancy to me, I'm just as young as I can be,' says Annie Mitchell, celebrating her 105th birthday with her son, Alfred, during a meeting of union retirees.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

Annie Mitchell still has a young girl's heart, if not the body.

“If any young man takes a fancy to me,” she said, “I'm just as young as I can be.”

Mrs. Mitchell, who turns 105 today, celebrated yesterday with a backyard birthday party in Toledo. She splits her year between Toledo and Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

The secret to her longevity, she said, is avoiding stress.

“I take things as they come,” she said. “I always have a good time wherever I go.”

Last week she was honored at her son Alfred's retirees potluck lunch meeting. She looked excitedly at her raffle tickets hoping to win a leftover dessert.

Mrs. Mitchell's health is good for her age.

“I can eat any sweets I like and I don't gain any weight,” she said.

She has a pacemaker and takes five pills each day. She uses a wheelchair occasionally, but can still walk with a walker.

“They think that I can't, but I can,” she said.

Mrs. Mitchell was born July 14, 1898, in Montreal, and lived in Canada until 1927. She spoke English at home but also understood French and would teach English to French children in her neighborhood for fun. She says she can still swear in French.

She met her husband, Alfred Mitchell, while she was working as a hotel clerk in London, Ont. They married in 1920 and had four children. He worked for Toledo Edison.

“I don't feel any older than I did then,” Mrs. Mitchell said.

Her husband's job eventually led them to Toledo.

Mrs. Mitchell has her own way to remember the Maumee River. When she would drive, her children in the back seat would say, “Ma! Ma!” and she would tell them, “Don't `Ma,' me.”

She moved to Fort Myers Beach in 1962. Six years ago, she moved in with her son. She spends winters in Florida and summers in Ohio.

Since she reached 100, many groups have asked her to speak.

“I've been on so many platforms,” she said. “I love every minute of it.”

She loves to talk about being in her prime.

“When I was young and in my prime, [I was] kissin' the boys all the time,” she recites, smiling. “Now that I'm old and my hair is gray, they tell me, `Old lady, get out of the way.' But if any young man takes a fancy to me, I'm just as young as I can be.”

She has 11 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.

Mrs. Mitchell jokes that she will live to be 200: “I've got a few more years left in me.”



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