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Congratulations and our very best wishes go out to Edna Runyon.

“Big Mama,” as she’s known to family and friends, celebrated her 111th birthday Jan. 25 at her Magnolia home.

She was born Jan. 25, 1908, in Willisville, the daughter of Alfred and Alice McKinney.

Runyon is not only Columbia County’s oldest resident, but, “We’re pretty sure she’s the oldest in the state,” said daughter Alice McKeller, adding, “but those things are sometimes hard to verify.”

McKeller is one of eight siblings, with four still living, and is 82. “She raised us all by herself,” she said of her mother.

The expected question for someone celebrating such a significant birthday is, of course, what’s the secret to her long life?

“She always says it was God that kept her here this long,” McKeller said in a Banner-News article about Runyon’s birthday celebration, noting that it was her mother’s faith in the Lord that kept her vibrant.

And hard work.

Granddaughter Sandra McKeller Smith, who traveled with her husband Dwayne from California for the birthday celebration, said Runyon was a hard worker who was employed well into her 90s, “Not because she had to, but because she wanted to.” That, along with her strong faith and good genetics have contributed to her grandmother’s longevity, Smith told the Banner-News.

Runyon is living proof of the rewards of such admirable qualities and we are honored and proud to offer this salute to her in recognition of her 111th birthday.

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