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112-year-old woman says the secret to her long life is cutting out the 'good stuff' like smoking and drinking

Posted at 12:01 PM, Jul 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-21 12:02:06-04

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Michigan -- Living until old age is a major milestone for anyone. Well, imagine if you've been alive for over a century. That's one woman's reality in Metro Detroit.

Nestled away at a senior living facility is Bonita Gibson. She is believed to be the oldest living person in Michigan at 112 years old after Irene Dunham died in 2022 at age 114.

Born July 4, 1911, Gibson watched the world change right before her eyes. Born and raised in Missouri, she grew up on a farm, and met her future husband, Kenneth, in high school.

"He was a senior and I was a sophomore," she said. From that point, life slowly took off but not without a few hiccups, like the Great Depression.

During that time period, Gibson recalls times being tough, but they were able to manage.

"We had chickens and a huge garden and all kinds of fruit trees. We had plenty to eat. We just didn't have any money to spend," she said.

Gibson's husband had a relative who owned a farm in Idaho. During the 1930s, they joined him. That opportunity introduced them to the potato industry.

"He said Kenny can help me in the field and you can be the cook, and I hadn't cooked a thing in my life."

Through the years, Gibson says she and her family kept growing. The couple had one son. He is now 85 years old and lives in Florida.

"The birth was exceedingly hard, so I thought, I don't think I want to do this again," Gibson joked.

Being a supercentenarian, Gibson says she's watched clothing and entertainment drastically change through the years.

Looking back on life, she recalled her fondest memories during the 1950s and 60s.

"We would go dancing every Saturday with a group of friends," she said.

Bonita was married for 74 years before Ken's passing in the early 2000s. CBS News Detroit asked what kept them together for so long. The humourous senior said this is how her husband would've answered: "I would've taken her back home several times, but we didn't have any money, so we had to stay together."

Following her husband's passing, she eventually made her way to Metro Detroit, where her grandchildren lived.

For those wondering how to live a life of longevity, Gibson says to avoid junk food and try to exercise.

"No smoking or drinking. Cut out all the good stuff, actually," she laughed.

With more than 100 years of life lived, Bonita still has more to go. Now, she enjoys watching the "Price is Right" daily and catching up with friends.

Bonita said the one place she always wanted to visit was San Diego. When she was 100, she took her first plane ride there.

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