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106 and counting

January 23, 2012

Ralph Kenworthy, who turned 106 on January 6, is with his younger brother, Forrest, 94, during a birthday celebration at Evergreen Court. (Photo by Jannaya Andrews)

    A special party was held at Evergreen Court on January 6 in honor of Ralph Kenworthy, who celebrated his 106 birthday with family and friends.
    Born in Camden, Ohio, on January 6, 1906, Ralph has been a fixture in Decatur for most of his life. Up until a few years ago, Ralph was still living in his own apartment and could be seen driving through town on his way to a variety of restaurants for a bite to eat, or perhaps to a local bar to play pool against the "younger boys," referring to his friends.
     "They were only in their 80's," Kenworthy commented.
    During his 106 years, there is very little Ralph hasn't seen or done. He enjoys traveling, although he admits this is a bit more difficult nowadays, and spent a great deal of time looking for "good fishing holes."
    He bore witness to two of the most devastating floods to hit Northeast Indiana, the first in 1913, and the record-breaking flood of 2003.
    "I never thought I'd see anything like that (the 1913 flood) again," Ralph said. "It's just a horrible thing."
    Not one to focus on the tragic side of life, Ralph was quick to move on to happier tales from a "life well lived," pulling his audience along with him as he traveled back through time.
    He recalled that as a young man, he once traveled from Indiana to Las Vegas, making the trip on a one-lane dirt road.
    Kenworthy also fondly remembers the times when, as a boy, he and his family lived in a boxcar; not once, but twice.
    "My dad worked for the railroad," recounted Ralph. "Back in those days there weren't enough houses, so what the railroad did was supply boxcars for their workers. That was something pretty neat for a young kid!"
    Never afraid to try something new, Ralph received his first computer lesson just a few days shy of his birthday, surfing the Internet on his grandson's iPad.        When asked what he thought of today's technology, Ralph was all smiles. "Boy, that was unbelievable! I just moved the thing (screen) with my finger, and anything you ever wanted to know was just right there!"
    Ralph and his wife, Jane, who passed away some four years ago, were rarely apart in their 68 years of marriage. Even after Jane was admitted to a nursing facility, Ralph made the short trip every morning to spend the day with his wife, staying by Jane's side to the very end.
    When asked what advice he could offer to younger generations, Ralph's response was, "What could I possibly tell 'em? I was a reckless know-it-all! All I can say is have fun! Live your life to the fullest and take each day as it comes."

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