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109-year-old was born before Utah gained statehood

SHARE 109-year-old was born before Utah gained statehood

ROY, Utah — Pearl Blain, believed to be the oldest resident in the Utah and one of the oldest members of the Church in the world, celebrated her 109th birthday Oct. 13 at the Heritage Park Care Center in Roy, Utah.

Possibly the last person alive when Utah became a state, she was born Oct. 13, 1895, in Spring City, Sanpete County. Utah became a state just three months later. Just two months before her birth, the first automobile race in the country was held. About 10 months after she was born, gold was discovered in Alaska.

Some 60 people, including at least two dozen residents of the care center, were on hand to sing her happy birthday and enjoy cake and ice cream. Although Sister Blain is no longer cognizant of her surroundings, she is in otherwise good health and managed to eat some ice cream.

Vickie Wheus, a granddaughter from Hooper, Utah, said she was thrilled a few days ago when her grandmother opened her eyes briefly.

"We don't get to see her eyes very often," she said.

Sister Blain's son, Alton, 77, said, "She's not on any medications. She's lived in three different centuries and seen all kinds of things.

"Who knows why she's lived this long," he said. "She didn't want to live this long."

A daughter, Twyla Foster, 79, said although her mother had pneumonia several times and a few mini strokes, "she's just lived a good life." Care center workers do have to feed her, but she was extremely active in the past, Sister Foster said.

"She was always doing something — quilting, canning, cooking. She couldn't even watch TV without doing something."

Sister Blain has been in the care center for almost 14 years. Previously, she lived alone in Ogden. Her husband, Grover, was 86 when he died in 1978.

"She didn't go to the store for bread," Sister Wheus said. "She made bread." Working at the Defense Depot in Ogden, Utah, and the Navy Base (now the Freeport Center), she was busy on two fronts.

It was only in her mid-60s that her family persuaded her to purchase a washer and dryer. She had always washed clothes by hand and never did use the dryer.

Her other son, Grover C., died last August. There are no other examples of extraordinary longevity in her family.

Utah's Gov. Olene Walker sent Sister Blain a letter, referring to her as "Utah's oldest female resident . . . a devoted mother . . . a strong, wonderful woman."

E-mail: lynn@desnews.com