Someone You Should Know: An amazing 105-year life

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 9:26 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

You'll often find Berneice Johnson out walking near her central Sioux Falls home.

“Everyday that the weather is halfway decent. And in the wintertime and I can’t go out there because it’s usually covered with snow and stuff. Then I walk around inside my garage,” Berneice said.

With a sharp mind and a look that’s much younger than her years, you’d never guess that Berneice was born in 1915. Woodrow Wilson was the President, and Babe Ruth was just starting his Major League Baseball career. That’s right, she recently turned 105 years old.

“People we’re beeping at me for about four days here. We just decided now we better take the sign down,” said Berneice.

For Johnson, who grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa, she was mowing her own lawn until her late 90′s.

“Then everybody got after me because I was so old. I shouldn’t be out there mowing the lawn,” said Berneice.

And was driving a car until she was 100.

“Shortly after I got to be 100, I thought this isn’t good. I better not do this. I didn’t have any accidents, but I thought I might,” said Johnson.

There was slight setback. A fall at home caused a broken hip at 102.

“And so I had to go and have some surgery. And I spent a month in Covington doing rehab and that kind of thing. Then I came home, and I’ve been here ever since,” Berneice said.

Berneice was married to her late husband Andy for 58-years. For 42 years, she was school teacher. Most of those were in Haywarden, Iowa. And she says even though she and her husband never had children, she really had a lot of them.

“Right now I’m getting birthday cards from Hawaii and California and Florida and just all over because the kids you know they say remember when you were my 4th grade teacher. You did this or that or something like that. But it’s been fun for me,” Johnson said.

The current coronavirus outbreak reminds her of when she was teaching during the polio scare.

“It was just like this. Nobody knew when they were going to get it. They didn’t know what to fight it with. They didn’t know what to do about it. You just hoped that you weren’t going to be affected you know. Anyway that year in school was bad. And then the parents would be scared and sometimes they’d take their children out and leave their children out for two three weeks or so, " Berneice said.

She’s also had a second career of almost 40 years as a volunteer at Sanford. Which she was still doing until the pandemic it.

“I worked primarily recruiting blood for the blood bank. But then I helped with admissions, taking people to their rooms and to their procedures. Wherever they had to have,” Johnson said.

Berneice does get some help from her longtime neighbor Barb Bucannan.

“If I didnt have Barb, I don’t know if I could be here. Because she either gets my groceries for me or brings them to me, and takes me to get my hair done,” Johnson said.

“She just goes and goes and goes. You know she handles all her own affairs, we don’t have any or that to do. She makes her own doctors appointments,” Barb said.

Besides montoring a little high blood pressure, Berneice gets told, just keep doing what you are doing during those doctors visits. So what’s her advice, for a such a good long life?

“They always say good diet, good rest, and good exercise, is what they always get after you about. And I’ve pretty much followed that. I’m really blessed and I know it,” Berneice said.

And so many have been blessed to know you Berneice, for an incredible 105 years. Erik Thorstenson, Dakota News Now, Sioux Falls>>

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