Miss Mont Turns 106 Years Old

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Over the past three centuries, Payson resident Montana McKean has been living every day as if it were her last.

"I've had a good life," said McKean, or Miss Mont, as everyone calls her.

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Miss Mont McKean, pictured with her son Byron, celebrated her 106th birthday at the Powell House two weeks ago.

Born in 1897, Miss Mont celebrated her 106th birthday June 15 at Powell House, an assisted living community on Longhorn Road.

Powell House has been Miss Mont's home almost since the second it opened in October of 1998. Since then, she has become something of a legend.

"She's sort of like our mascot," said Beverly Varney, a nurse at Powell House who has known Miss Mont for almost three years. "I just admire her so much for aging so wonderfully. We have a preconception of what it would be like to be 106, and it isn't that. She never complains. Most older people say things like, ‘I don't know why I'm still here' and ‘I wish I could just go," but not Miss Mont. She's here, she knows she's elderly, but she's enjoying the time and she's well."

As far as Miss Mont's health goes, Varney said that she is doing well and is "normal."

Not only is Miss Mont normal for her age, but she also spent the entire day dancing at a prom the Powell House held for the elderly in April.

Assistant administrator at the Powell House, Doreen Mandel said that any time an event involves dancing, music or children, Miss Mont is always first to arrive and last to leave.

As a young woman living in Brownwood, Texas, Miss Mont majored in music at Daniel Baker College and learned how to play the violin and piano.

Her son, Payson resident Byron McKean, said he loved to hear his mother play her instruments.

"(My best memory) is her playing music and laughing," McKean said.

Miss Mont said it was her mother who inspired her passion for music.

"My mother loved music," she said. "She gave me music when I was big enough to hold a violin."

Turning 106 years old is an accomplishment in just about everyone's eyes but Miss Mont's.

"It doesn't make any difference," she said. "I've had a good life and a good husband. I can't complain."

Miss Mont met her husband, Elmo McKean, through one of her college friends in 1923.

After 26 years of marriage, Elmo died, leaving a 52-year-old Mont alone. But as always, she made the most of her situation and traveled the world with her sister Stell, who was a year older than she.

McKean said his mother has a great long-term memory, but that her short-term memory is "very short term. But she remembers where she came from and who she is. It's like every day is a whole new day."

True to tradition, McKean waltzed with Miss Mont at her birthday party this year.

Varney said this year's scene between mother and son was reminiscent of last year's when Miss Mont turned 105. Among last year's songs was "Young at Heart" by Frank Sinatra, a choice related to one particularly fitting line:

"And if you should survive to 105, look at all you'll derive out of being alive. And here is the best part: You'll have a head start, if you are among the very young at heart."

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