Credit: WLTX

A South Carolina woman who recently celebrated her 107th birthday credits the blessings of God for her longevity.

“I do what the Bible tells me,” Adell Julie Thompson of Santee, S.C., told WLTX News 19 in Columbia. Thompson was born Oct. 10, 1915 – two years before the United States entered World War I and just three years after the Titanic sank. She was 26 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (1941). She was 48 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated (1963) and 53 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon (1969).

She has lived through 20 U.S. presidents. (William Howard Taft was president when she was born). Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln, was still alive at age 72 when she was born.

Her friends and family held a large outdoor birthday party for her. “I had no dream of being 107 years,” Thompson told WLTX. “But the Lord spared me, and I try to do the right thing, I guess, so people don’t talk about you.”

Born and raised in Santee, she saw transportation transition from horses and mules to cars. Thompson worked as a second-grade substitute teacher in the 1930s. In 1940, she married her late husband, Eddie. Much of her life involved working on family farms, including picking cotton, according to WLTX.

“I could pick 260 pounds of cotton a day, yessir. I’ll never do it no more. I sure would drag now if I had to do it,” she said, laughing. She has three children, six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. “I thank the Lord to have me to do the right thing until I do go,” she said.

Thompson, though, is not the oldest American. That honor goes to Iowan Bessie Hendricks, who turned 115 on Nov. 7. Hendricks’ daughter Joan Schaffer is 90. “I don’t know how you put it into words,” Joan Schaffer told KCCI. “It’s marvelous that we still have her.”

About one in every 5,000 people in the United States is a centenarian—someone who’s 100 or more years old—and about 85 percent of them are women. A New England Centenarian Study has shown centenarians age slowly, delaying age-related diseases to much later in life.

So how can we live to see 100? You could manage your stress, avoid smoking, eat right, and exercise regularly. Genetics also plays a massive role in our longevity. While getting to age 90 is roughly 30 percent genetics and 70 percent health behaviors. By age 110, it’s likely the opposite, or 70 percent genetic

What a blessing it is to live to be 107 years old! On top of this blessing, Thompson has a community around her to cherish her and keep her young. Thompson has seen so much in her lifetime, from picking cotton to seeing the first black president. She saw the evolution of transportation, going from horses and buggies to cars. While we hope that Ms. Thompson makes it to 108, we hope that she and those around her cherish every day she’s still here.

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