New Bern woman celebrates 108th birthday

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) – The seats in a senior living center here in the east were filled with laughter and fun from friends of family as one woman celebrated 108 years of life.

Joan Smith got together with her loved ones at Brookdale Senior Living Center in New Bern. Even though her 108th birthday is not until Wednesday, her loved ones threw an early birthday party with festive hats, balloons, cookies, and ice cream.

“Joan is just a remarkable lady,” said Deara Yates, residents program coordinator. “She’s got so many interesting stories about things she’s done in the past; she’s opened up libraries, she’s volunteered, she’s really an amazing woman.”

Joan Smith, sitting at the head of the table with her party hat on played some rounds of bingo, but what she’s really ready for is bridge, her favorite game.

“I really enjoy bridge very much,” Joan Smith said.

“I’ve never known her to not play bridge,” said Sue Smith, Joan’s daughter.

Joan Smith grew up in Maryland with her sister and moved to New Bern in 1979. After living through multiple pandemics, including the flu outbreak in 1918, she knew that it was important to maintain her health.

Sue Smith said growing up, her mom was always open to trying new ways to stay fit and healthy.

“I remember the time she wanted to learn how to water ski, and she asked a total stranger who was water skiing if she could do it and he said sure, and she did it,” she said.

Years later at 107, things have not changed.

“She eats an orange every day,” said caregiver Marie Phillips. “It’s her secret to longevity”.

As for the secret to staying young? Joan Smith says it’s all about good genes.

“I think she stays so young because she likes people,” said Sue Smith. “She doesn’t carry around that level of stress that makes people old. “

For Joan Smith’s birthday on Wednesday, her bridge club will join her for cake, presents, and of course a fun round of bridge.