“She’s so precious,” said her younger daughter, Donna Tonemah, 83. “And she’s always been a helper.” Woodbury has dedicated her life to her family, her church and her community.

She doesn’t talk much anymore, just a few words at a time, but looks decades younger than she is, with few lines creasing her face. Yet there is the proof of her great age in the census of 1930, when she was 20 years old, living with her 25-year-old husband and their 3-month-old son, Joseph.

Since she turned 100, Gladys Woodbury has lived with Brenda Woodbury, one of her 17 grandchildren. Gladys Woodbury also has 29 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren. Home health aides assist her around the clock.

Because of advances in medicine, sanitation and diet, more people are living into their 80s than ever before, said Dr. Ken Garbarino, a geriatrician at Kaleida Health’s Geriatric Center of Western New York. But, he said, “Living beyond 80 and certainly to 100 has more to do with your genes than lifestyle.”

A healthy lifestyle, eating a good diet, getting medical care, establishing a healthy social network and pursuing mental and physical exercise “certainly will help maintain your functional ability and add to your quality of life overall,” he said.

Photo: Robert Kirkham

Throughout her long life, Woodbury has dedicated herself to community work. She was a founding member of the Tuscarora Parent-Teacher Association in 1938, served as treasurer of the Tuscarora Home Bureau, cooked at the nation’s New Year’s Feast, and was an officer of the Ladies Aid Society of the Tuscarora Baptist Church, which she still attends.

 Photo: Robert Kirkham

“She always just took one day at a time,” said Mary Woodbury. “I’ve never seen her not happy. She never complains, and you never hear her say, ‘I wish I had this or that.’ ”

“She’s just amazing,” said Henry.

As the oldest living member of the Tuscarora Nation, “she is highly respected on the reservation,” said Tonemah. “Anyone who knows her has high regard for her.”

“My sister couldn’t find one for a mother to give to her 80-year-old daughter,” said Henry, while her mother and other relatives shared a hearty laugh.
Source: BuffaloNews

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