NEWPORT, Tenn. - An East Tennessee woman keeps her hands flexible and her mind sharp using her longtime skill with a needle.
"She's a good friend for us. Yes, she is," Karen Hooper said.
She is Nannie Hale, the senior member of a weekly quilting gathering at Southside Baptist Church in Newport.
"I weighed 3 pounds and 3 ounces when I was born and my father said, You grew up quickly and you never have been still since," Nannie Hale said.
Grace Bell said: "I learned to quilt from Nannie and some of the other ladies and they taught me speed in my quilting. I'm not sure if I have surpassed Nannie or not."
Grace knows it takes nimble fingers and a focused mind to create quilts, but Nannie downplays her talent. Even though she can still work a needle at 104.
"I haven't done anything to be noted for. I'm just 104 years old. That's all," she said.
Her friends in the quilting group don't agree.
"The rest of us just come in here dragging and she's just always her cheerful self," Karen said.
Bureda White said, "She's quite young in her mind and body for her age. She's with it, she's with whatever is going on in the world."
Grace said, "We've had some good times and good stories and a lot about life and growing up and wisdom."
She is reluctant to share that wisdom, now though she admits her beauty secret is soap and water.
"If she's got secrets she hasn't told me either," Karen said.
She said she eats right and she keeps active. In fact, she used to lead an exercise class at the Senior Center.
"I've walked an awful lot because I like walking," Nannie said. "I don't do a lot of it now. I figured that maybe I could quilt after so long exercising."
She gave up exercising recently and she gave up smoking a long time ago.
"I smoked for a little while back in my younger days because everybody else did where I worked," she explained.
She's enjoyed a long retirement and made a lot of quilts.
"The quilting group - when I started - there were 25 people and now we're down to about 10," Karen said.
Nannie said, "Well, they've passed away, quite of few of them lately, haven't they?"
Nannie Hale can laugh about it because she is a 104.
"She's an inspiration to all of us, I think," Karen said.
Grace said, "She's just a wonderful woman of God and I've been very blessed to have her in my life."