"I just don't know how I did it," Dena Haney admits. "I don't have any secrets. It just happened that I got to be 100 years old. You know, Bob Hope is just 99!"
Actually, Haney is making herself out to be older than she really is. She's a youthful 99, too, and won't hit the official century mark until tomorrow (Saturday), when the occasion will be celebrated by a gaggle of friends and family.
Born Christina Kessler in St. Clair County, Ill., in 1902, Dena had 11 brothers and sisters and has survived them all.
"I guess the good Lord just doesn't want me," Haney said with a chuckle.
Haney grew up on the family farm near Freeberg, Ill., and later married and worked as a sales clerk in nearby Belleville. In 1991, she moved to Mesa to be close to her family, then followed them to Payson six years later.
Celebrating 100 birthdays has not cooled Dena's lifelong passion for bingo ("I once won $100 at the American Legion!"), pinochle, card playing (her favorite game is bridge, although "not many people play it anymore," she laments), food, friends, family and fun.
"When everyone gets here for my birthday, I hope they'll all want to play bingo," Haney said with an optimistic grin.
Greetings may be sent to Dena at Payson Care Center, 107 Lone Pine Dr., Payson AZ 85541.