Ask Bernice McCulloh Reed her secret to long life, and the soon to be centenarian just smiles.
She credits abstaining from drinking alcohol and smoking, as well as genetics, for her long life-span.
On Wednesday, Sept. 19, she will celebrate her 100th birthday with a party at noon for family and friends at Baptist Village Honey Creek in Grove.
Born in Adrian, Missouri, Bernice grew up with her homemaker mother, Ruby Owen McCulloh, and her insurance agent father, William Blaine McCulloh.
She graduated from Adrian High School in 1935, and later attended the Kansas City College of Commerce. She eventually worked for Knaus Truck Lines and Burd & Fletcher Printing Co.
"I knew I couldn't be a teacher, I didn't have the patience," Bernice said. "So I did bookwork."
While in Kansas City, she met and married her husband, John Murry Reed - he lived with three other guys in the apartment across the hall from Bernice and her sister.
Murry, as he was known by his friends, turned out to be the one she liked the most. They dated two years before getting married on Feb. 11, 1940.
"He was cute and had a job," Bernice said.
In 1941 Murry joined the U.S. Armed Services and was a First Lieutenant in World War II.
After Murry's service during the war was finished, the couple resided in Kansas City, then Hamilton, Missouri. They had four children: John Michael, Richard Don and Carol Sue.
In 1956 the family moved back to Adrian. Murry died in March 1963, from heart failure.
"When I lost my husband, it set me back a bit," Bernice said. "But everyone was good to me."
Bernice then began a career as a bookkeeper for the Associated Natural Gas Company, retiring in 1978 after 12 years of service.
She remained active for many years, first in the Adrian Community with her volunteer work with First Baptist Church and the Rollin Bobbins Extension Club.
In 2010, she moved to Grove to be near her daughter and son-in-law, Carol and Tom Rice.
She continues to stay active at the Baptist Village Honey Creek attending Bible studies, bingo, monthly luncheons and a variety of other activities.
Bernice said she enjoys sitting on the front porch, at the center, atching the cars go by. Until her eyesight began to fail, she made doll quilts to give to missionaries.
Despite her age, Bernice continues to cook at least two meals a day and do her own laundry.
She can often be found on Sunday afternoons, hanging out with her family.
"I don't like to sit still and look at the walls," Bernice said, adding it often frustrates her to watch television, especially as it shows how society has changed in the last few decades.
"I've learned to take every day as it comes and try not to worry," Bernice said "Taking each day as it comes is all you can do anymore."
Bernice said she always tries to be honest, and tell the truth, even if it hurts.
She said besides the memory of her husband, the birth of her three children remain her strongest memories of her lifetime.
"I think what a wonderful family I had," Bernice said. "What a wonderful life."
In addition to Carol and Tom Rice, Bernice has several other relatives living in Grove including her son Don, and her granddaughter Gail.
All together, Bernice has three children, three grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren.
One Thing with Bernice
One person who inspires you?
My parents. They were good parents, awfully good. They were always right there when I needed anything. Even after I got married. They were good people in a small town. I tried to live my life like that.
One book that's stuck with you?
Gone With The Wind. I've read the book and watched the movie twice. It's intriguing to see how the south was.
One thing you can't live without?
I like to eat, really anything in front of me. My favorite is homemade chicken and noodles.
One thing that might surprise people?
Even at her age, Bernice said she will try just about anything - recently going four-wheeling with a family member.
But I won't jump out of an airplane. I'll pass that up.
One piece of advice she's been given.
Just be good to yourself. Be good and be good to your neighbors.
One thing you'd want people to know
That Bernice, she's getting old, but she can still talk.