GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Walter Breuning of Great Falls said the secret to living a long life is staying active. And he should know. The retired Great Northern Railway worker celebrated his 112th birthday on Sunday. Breuning said that if "you keep your mind busy and keep your body busy, you're going to be around a long time."
About 60 people helped Breuning celebrate his birthday at the Rainbow Retirement and Assisted Living Community, where he has lived for 30 years.
Rainbow employee Merry Coats was one of them. She said Breuning has a great attitude and always focuses on the positive.
"He wakes up every morning, puts his feet on the ground, and it's a good day," she said.
As of Monday, Breuning was the 27th oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group's Web site. The site lists 115-year-old Edna Parker of Indiana as the oldest.
Breuning was born in Minnesota in 1896 and moved to Montana 90 years ago. He told partygoers about the changes he's seen over the decades, having lived in the days when there was no running water, to modern times when there are "buttons for everything."
Technological breakthroughs such as radio, TV, automobiles and computers make life more pleasant, but "sometimes I wonder if we appreciate what has freely been given to us," he said.
Breuning told the group to love and appreciate their family and friends, and "above all, thank God for the many blessings he's given us throughout the years."
"That is your Sunday sermon — and no collection," he concluded.