Mid-Missouri woman celebrates 106th birthday

A Holts Summit woman celebrated her 106th birthday Sunday in the company of her family, including some of her great-great-grandchildren.

Helen Fender was six years old when the Titanic sank, 23 when the Stock Market crashed in 1929.

When World War II ended in 1949, Fender was 39 years old.

"I'm just so pleased," Fender said. "With my daughter here being able to talk to you, I'm just kind of blown up about it."

Fender's daughter Laura Cartmill-Cooley said she is grateful for the chance to have grown up in rural Missouri, that the experience helped make her the woman she is today.

She said when her mother moved them out to a farm near Independence, neighbors were a lot more spread out than they are today and that there were fewer roads.

Another of Fender's daughters said she is grateful that her mother taught them to be self-sufficient. "She made all of our clothes," said Irene Young. "We lived out in the country on the farm and we would get feed from a feed truck, and my sisters and I would stand out there in the driveway when the feed truck came and make dibs on the feed sacks that we wanted to be our dresses."

One of Helen's grandchildren said she is inspired by her grandmother's longevity.

"It's kind of exciting, but you also wonder what kind of physical or mental shape you'll be in by the time you're that age," said Nanette Nacy. "But, she is doing very well. You hope that if you live a long life like that, you'll be like she is."

As of 2013, Helen Fender has 51 direct descendants including 13 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and seven great-great grandchildren.

Helen's family said they hope to be back for another birthday next year.