News
6:01 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

More Than 50 People in Forsyth County Are 100 Years or Older

Living past 100 years old may seem unlikely for many people, but you may be surprised to know that dozens of centenarians are living in Forsyth County.

The city of Winston-Salem honored centenarians in Forsyth County during a special luncheon at the Benton Convention Center on Friday. The event was part of the city’s 100th birthday celebration.

“I think the last count was 53 centenarians and we were thinking about 40 would be able to attend because of their condition. We think this is important to honor the people who made Winston-Salem what it is today and many of these people have seen events that have taken place and contributed to the

community,” says Nancy Hall, who helped organize the event.

The oldest centenarian in the group is 109 year-old Sina Hayes.

Ina Cook is the second oldest at 108. She watched the city transform from dust covered streets with horse drawn buggies to cars and pavement. She says she still remembers bringing tobacco into the city from her family farm in Surry County to sell in local warehouses.

 “We had a car and we drove and when we would come to sell tobacco, I would come and shop,” says Cook.

Josephine Stem was born in 1908. The 104 year-old says reading helps her stay sharp. Her faith and her family also keep her going. Stem says she’s honored to be part of the hyphenated city.

“It’s nice to be remembered when you get old because you are losing what you are able to do all of the time when you get older, but I have good help,” says Stem.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of centenarians in the United States grew by 66 percent between 1980 and 2010 to 53,364, while the total population increased 36 percent. Medical experts say the increase is fueled by advances in medical care and health practices.

100 year-old Cleo Alexander Douthit says he’s proud to be a citizen of Winston-Salem. He credits his longevity to lifestyle changes.

“One thing is that I did was I quit smoking and I think that is one reason I’ve made it 100 years. I also drink lots of water. Oh yes! I’m a water hog,” says Douthit.

Each centenarian received a special plaque on Friday from mayor Allen Joines and city council members. The 100 year-olds also received recognition from the White House. A proclamation from President Obama was read during the event.