St. Paul woman celebrating 106th birthday


Dorothy Hall McFarland is known for her dancing and storytelling. And she's got some stories – over 100 years worth.

McFarland turns 106 years old on Friday.

When she was born in 1908, Teddy Roosevelt was president, the leading cause of death was tuberculosis, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was penned, Henry Ford produced his first Model T, and a gallon of milk cost 32 cents, the Pioneer Press says.

McFarland told the Park Bugle when she turned 105 that she'd never thought about how long she would live, saying, "I was busy living every day." She attributes her long life to having a giving family and love – lots of love.

“I have a loving family. I was raised that way. They were raised that way. My family has given from the beginning,” she told the Park Bugle. “Love, love, love is the name of the game.”

McFarland graduated from St. Paul Central High School and for 50 years worked as a nursery school teacher in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Her husband, Albert, died in the 1970s and she lived independently until she was 103, the Park Bugle says. She never had children of her own, but she helped raise the children in her extended family, according to the Pioneer Press.

Her family has deep connections to the city of St. Paul. Her late father, S. Edward Hall, moved to St. Paul in 1900 and opened a barber shop in 1906, which serviced mostly white entrepreneurs, including James J. Hill, the Pillsburys and the McMillians, according to the African American registry. He was also an activist for civil rights and social change in the city – he helped found the St. Paul chapter of the NAACP and the St. Paul Urban League.

Click here for photos of McFarland and her family through the years.

McFarland isn't the oldest living Minnesotan. Anna Stoehr celebrated her 113th birthday last October – at that time, she was the 13th oldest person in the world.

In February, two centenarian nuns shared shared their secrets of longevity with FOX 9, saying a lifestyle focused on serving others helped them find peace and happiness in their life.

They're not the only ones to attribute philanthropy to a long life. Minnesota Compass says over a third of Minnesotans over the age of 75 devote some of their time to volunteering.

Centenarians are the fastest-growing demographic groups in the United States, U.S. News says. There are about 70,000 Americans who have reached the 100 mark, but that number is expected to rise to about 600,000 by 2050, according to U.S. News. The U.S. Census Bureau says 81 percent of centenarians are women.

The Gerontology Research Group estimates there are 300 to 400 supercentenarians (people who have lived past their 110th birthday) currently living in the world, but the organization has only verified 71 supercentenarians. Of those, 67 are female and four are males.

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