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Associated Press, Published October 26 2013

Bemidji woman prepares to celebrate 104th birthday

BEMIDJI, Minn. — A Bemidji woman who lived through both world wars and remembers when televisions were introduced celebrated her 104th birthday this weekend.

Tillie O'Rear planned to celebrate with family and friends Saturday and with church friends Sunday, the Bemidji Pioneer reported.

Tillie was born on Oct. 26, 1909, one of seven children. She moved to the Bemidji area in 1917, at the age of 8, and remembers she wasn't impressed with the surroundings.

“It was just a dumpy little town with a lot of bootleggers and lumberjacks,” she recalled.

Tillie said she remains relatively healthy. She's had a stroke and a hip replacement but her mind is still sharp, and she even drove her own car until last year.

“I remember World War I, II, III, whatever,” she said.

Tillie got her first job at age 17, serving as a “plug monkey” at Northwestern Bell in Bemidji. She married David O'Rear in 1933, a marriage that lasted 66 years until he died in 2000.

When asked about her longevity, she noted that most of her close relatives were long-lived. Most of her siblings lived into their late 80s or early 90s, including a sister who lived to the age of 93.

Tillie is believed to be the second 104-year-old Bemidji resident. Elsye McGuire celebrated her birthday in August.