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100 Going On 50

June 8, 2012, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

100 Going On 50
ABERDEEN, SD -

Some people will count down the days to retirement. But others never seem to quit. That's the case for an Aberdeen woman, who says she feels half her age and doesn't intend to act any older than she feels.

As seniors serve meals in Aberdeen, you'll find a staple of a volunteer in the room. In fact, you probably couldn't even pay her to quit.

"Don't want to that's why. If you don't keep moving and use your system, you lose it," Mabel Berreth said.

And Berreth hasn't given her system a chance to get lost in her 100 years. Well, a little more than that actually.

"One hundred years and two months, yep," Berreth said.

Berreth's age doesn't stop her from making her way to the senior center every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to volunteer. She checks people in and keeps track of who's there.

She even drives, something she insists she can still handle.

"Oh yeah, the insurance guy even sent me a birthday card, says he appreciates my driving," Berreth said.

Berreth has volunteered at the senior center for 35 years.

"Rain, shine, snow, ice- doesn't matter. Mabel will be here if there's any way she can get here," director Shari Phillips said.

"She drives; she rides the bus. In the winter time, she takes the bus," activities director Kay Hohenecker said.

Hohenecker and Phillips say the place wouldn't be the same without her. The city even declared Mabel Berreth day at the beginning of April when she turned 100 years old, an age she embraces despite feeling only 50.

"She's a joy to have here. We really appreciate her," Ellie Heintzman said.

"I don't let anything bother me. I take it as it comes," Berreth said.

One of Berreth's goals is not to complain regardless of how things are going. And she isn't kidding either. She can tell you a story about out running a prairie fire by horse as a kid, living through a handful of tornadoes and she's faced other battles too. Berreth says she's battled cancer three times.

"Yep, three cancers," Berreth said.

She says that led to three surgeries on her colon, small intestine and breast. But she doesn't expect people to feel bad for her because she doesn't feel bad for herself.

"First surgery I had, I made an afghan while I was in the hospital," Berreth said.

She wasn’t able to sit idle then any more than she is now.

"Yeah, I'm pretty active. I have a little problem with hearing but outside of that, I'm good," Berreth said.

So at least for now, she doesn't see an end to her volunteering at the senior center in Aberdeen. And she couldn't venture a guess as to when that day will come.

"Who knows; it isn't up to me," Berreth said.

Those around her would hope for never.

"We just love her," Hohenecker said.

"Mabel's a staple around here and I don't know what we'd do without her," Phillips said.

So for now she'll keep getting in her car and making her way down to the senior center to help out, keeping up the routine that's brought her so far in life.

"Ah, I don't know. Like I said, I've never been a complainer, take day from day and eat a lot of chocolate ice cream," Berreth said.

Berreth has actually scaled back quite a bit from her earlier volunteering days. She said she's probably served on every committee possible at the senior center.

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