The Big 100

Published 10:44 pm Saturday, May 9, 2009

IRONTON — Virginia “Ginny” Sturgill has a secret to share — the secret of living to 100 years old.

“A good home life goes a long way, a long, long way,” said Ironton’s newest centenarian.

Sturgill celebrated birthday number 100 with a party attended by friends and church members Saturday at Ironton’s First Baptist Church on South Fifth Street.

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She actually turned 100 on Friday, but wanted to wait until the weekend to celebrate. The more than 30 in attendance took turns chatting with the birthday girl while snacking on sandwiches, fruit, crackers and punch.

Born May 8, 1909, Sturgill has lived in the Tri-State area nearly all 100 years — first in rural Kentucky and then as a child in Hanging Rock. Her father worked for the railroad, moved the family to Ironton and built the house that she has called home nearly all her life.

Sturgill took up building as well. She and her family were instrumental in the construction of the First Baptist Church — a church that she has been a member of for 71 years.

Rev. Dennis Strawn, pastor of First Baptist Church said Sturgill is both the oldest and longest tenured member of his congregation.

“She has been a member for a long time and was back with us at Palm Sunday services this year,” Strawn said.

Coming into the world the same year that William Taft became the 27th President of the United States, the first short-wave radio broadcast was made and the U.S. Navy established its base at Pearl Harbor, Sturgill keeps a sharp mind and is spry and active.

“I can’t believe I’m 100 years old,” she said while greeting well-wishers in a lavender upholstered wingback chair draped with Mylar balloons near the hall’s entrance.

But many in attendance could believe it, as Sturgill is not the first in her family to reach triple digits. Her sister, Iona Sturgill lived to be 100 before she died in 2008 just a week before her 101st birthday.

So is it luck or is it in the genes?

Never married, Sturgill said another key was she really never took any medications nor has been a frequent visitor to hospitals and doctors offices.

“I’ve enjoyed good health all my life,” Sturgill said while having birthday cake and coffee. “Our mother fed us foods that were good for us.”

And that health, food and faith has helped Sturgill enter age’s centenarian club in fine fashion.

“She is the centerpiece of the event,” Strawn told the partygoers as they assembled to sing Ginny her 100th “Happy Birthday.”