Still sharp; Saskatchewan’s oldest resident turns 113

Reita Fennell turned 113 last week.

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In 1907, Albert Einstein was starting to create the theory of relativity, Rudyard Kipling won the Nobel Prize for literature, the first Ford Model R was produced and Reita Fennell was born.

She was born on November 20 and may not have outlasted the theory of relativity, but she kicked some butt on the Model R.

“She’s mentally very alert when she’s awake, and feeling sharp,” said Fennell’s granddaughter-in-law, Carmen Irvine.

Thanks to COVID-19, the second pandemic Fennell has lived through, her usual party of 100 people or so was not possible, but the City’s emergency services stepped up to make it memorable anyway.

“It all started off with a fantastic parade put on by the Melfort emergency services,” said Irvine. “The fire department, the police, the ambulance with full sirens and lights flashing. She was so surprised, ‘I didn’t ask for a parade’.”

Fennell lives at Parkland Place in Melfort, and was put in front of the glass doors so she could watch her birthday salute.

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Captain Rick Robins of the Salvation Army, Fennell’s long time minister, came to the door and sang happy birthday for her.

“That was really special that she got to see him and hear him,” Irvine said.

Irvine and her husband Kent were allowed to have dinner with Fennell, called Grandma Deat by those close to her, an exception to the no visitors rule currently in place.

After food and cake, Irvine spent an hour going through messages and birthday wishes from people, which have included the Premier and other dignitaries ever since she turned 100.

At 113, Fennell takes advantage of her earned right to sleep a lot, but when she’s awake, she is mentally sharp.

“When she’s awake, she’s very sharp yet,” said Irvine. “I think she’s kind of proud of herself, she still can’t believe she’s the oldest in the province.”

Fennell was disappointed she couldn’t have a full house of people celebrating. Normally  about 100 people turn out.

“She really missed having the social aspect of it this year, for sure,” Irvine said.

However, this lady is no slouch with modern technology so she FaceTime’s people who she wants to contact.

“She loves it,” Irvine laughed.