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2 WOMEN SAVOR EACH MOMENT AFTER LIVING MORE THAN 100 YEARS

SHARE 2 WOMEN SAVOR EACH MOMENT AFTER LIVING MORE THAN 100 YEARS

The retirement home people could give Margaret Van Orman Johnson Lee an apartment closer to the main hall.

She is, after all, 100 years old."I wouldn't want it," says Lee, emphatically. "I like to be where I can walk."

Lee celebrated the century mark Saturday in a Las Vegas casino.

Somehow, though, the excitement of the Strip seems incongruous to the joy Lee says she gets out of watching a red robin bound in search of a worm.

"In Las Vegas, they asked me what I'd do if I won a lot of money. I'd faint!" she said. "I wouldn't know what to do."

A petite lady whose sight and hearing have dimmed but whose mind is as sharp as her wit is quick, Lee says her secret to happiness and longevity is simple: work.

"Work, work, work. That's what keeps you going."

And it helps to be nice to people, too.

"Maybe people don't always fit exactly what you think, but you can like them anyway and that will make you happy."

Born to pioneer parents in Bennington, Idaho, she married at age 19 and lived in Canada for six years until a dream persuaded her to move back to the United States. She lived in Thistle and Payson, Utah County, and Bingham, Salt Lake County.

Her first husband died in 1931. Her second died in 1957. "I think I've been a widow the larger part of my life."

Lee has also outlived three of her four children and has managed to escape several serious illnesses, including smallpox and a ruptured appendix during her childhood.

She's never been operated on and takes only two pills a day, one of them an aspirin.

"The Lord's been good to me," she exults. "I've had a glorious life."

Nowadays, she is content to visit with neighbors, take frequent walks and recite poetry to friends.

When Lee was 90, she wrote this poem, which, she says, still applies at age 100:

"When you're 90, you're this or that.

"You're either slim or else you're fat.

"You have false teeth that do not fit.

"It's hard to find a place to sit.

"Your legs are wobbly and it's hard to walk.

"But you thank the Lord he'll let you talk."