Iowan Celebrates Big Birthday and Joins Exclusive Club

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CARLISLE, Iowa – Family and friends are celebrating a woman who has lived longer than most ever will. Tressa Bartholomew was born March 30, 1905. Now that she’s 110, she joins an exclusive club of supercentenarians.

Bartholomew said it’s just another day. "Just living, I guess."

Daughter Joyce Bender said, "It's just hard to believe that she's that age."

A supercentenarian is someone who is 110 or older. The Iowa Department on Aging keeps a voluntary registry, so a spokesperson says there’s no way of knowing how complete it is. According to the registry, nine Iowans have reached the supercentenarian status. Great Granddaughter Annie Hockins said, "It's pretty amazing. It's absolutely incredible, and the fact that her health is good for the most part."

Bartholomew still lives in her two-bedroom Carlisle home. She takes eye drops for her glaucoma and recently got new headphones to help her hear. But, the mother of four, with 13 grandkids, 29 great grandkids and 52 great great-grandkids, is doing well. Hockins said, "Grandma can still tell you the story when her piano came into town.”

Bartholomew said, "It probably came by horse and that sort of transportation. Everyone was excited about a piano in the house."

Her prized piano has moved with her since childhood. Now it has pictures of past birthdays and cards from this year. Family and friends celebrated her big birthday this weekend. Many want to know her secret to longevity.

Bartholomew said, "I wouldn't know really, just living."

Bender said, “She really doesn't know, except the good Lord has left her here that long for a reason."

Hockins said, "I'd like to say it's vinegar or some kind of actual secret, but nope, just being born in the family or having so many kids. It will keep you around for a while, right Grandma?"

Even if Bartholomew doesn’t have a secret to a long life, she offered this advice for a happy one. She said, "I think it's good to have a good family that are agreeable with one another. No fighting and fussing."

Congressman David Young even recognized Bartholomew before the United States House last week. Young said, “Since her birth, we have revolutionized air travel and walked on the moon. We have invented the television, cellular phones and the internet.”

He also said, “Tressa has lived through 18 United States Presidents and 24 governors of Iowa. In her lifetime, the population of the United States has more than tripled.”

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