In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 21, 2014

Minnesota’s Oldest Resident Fudges Age to Make Friends — on Facebook

By In the Loop

Anna Stoehr learns Facebook and FaceTime to keep up acquaintances. You may recall reading about Anna Stoehr a couple years back when we shared some of the "Oldest Living Minnesotan's" reflections on how health care has changed during her lifetime. A regular at Mayo Clinic Health System in Plainview, she told the Red Wing Republican Eagle about delivering her five children at home, which was the only place you'd see your provider: "The doctors only made house calls back then."

Now Anna is in the news again — in a big way. Just shy of her 114th birthday on Oct. 15, she decided to join Facebook. There was just one problem: Facebook's options for choosing a birth year only go back to 1905, and Anna was born in 1900. So she did what many have done before: she shaved a few years off her age. Then, she got busy making friends.

"Mother has always embraced technology," Anna's son Harlan tells KTTC-TV in Rochester. While his father was "leery" of technology, Harlan Stoehr says his mother appreciated what technology could do. "'How does it work?' That is one of her favorite questions," he says.

Anna learned how Facebook works from Joseph Ramireza, a telecommunications company sales rep. According to KARE 11-TV, Ramireza met Anna after selling a smart phone to Harlan. When he heard his 85-year-old customer had a 113-year-old mother, Ramireza "had to meet her." He did, and he's made about half a dozen trips to teach Anna how to use Facebook -- as well as email, the Google and FaceTime. "She's become something of a kindred spirit," says Ramireza, who told KARE 11 he also typed a letter for Anna to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. What did she want to tell him? "I'm still here." Facebook knew a good opportunity when it saw one and responded by sending Anna a birthday card, best wishes from the gang at Facebook, and 114 flowers. (We'd give that a thumbs-up.)

Now lots of other folks know that Anna is still here, too. Her story has appeared in numerous news outlets, including NPR, The Huffington Post and USA Today (which called her a "coy centenarian").

Hoping (like us) that the secret to Anna's longevity is some combination of sweet and salty? Not according to her Mayo Clinic Health System physician, Robert Taylor, D.O., who attributes it to a "mix of good genetics, clean livin" and staying active. Anna, however, has another idea. "I know it's the good Lord's doing, because I sure didn't do anything," she tells the Mayo Clinic News Network.

The Mayo Clinic News Network was on the story, too. Watch their video below, and then do something for us by sharing your comments. You can share this story with your friends (old and new) using the handy social media tools.

Tags: Anna Stoehr, Centenarian, Facebook, Patient Stories

Anna you are one special lady. People like you make the world a better place

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