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Walter Breuning – The OLDEST MAN IN THE WORLD…

March 17, 2011

Walter Breuning – The OLDEST MAN IN THE WORLD…
Living in Great Falls, Montana, USA

Walter Breuning (born September 21, 1896) is a Super-centenarian. At the age of 114 years, he is currently the 2nd oldest [verified] person in the world.  He has been the oldest living MAN in the world since July 18 2009, and the last known man still living who was born in 1896. On his 110th birthday, Breuning was declared the oldest living retired railroader in the United States. The governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, and the city mayor attended his celebration. He is one of the last two males still alive today who were verifiably born before the year 1900. He is one of only five men in history to have undisputedly reached the age of 114. Breuning is the oldest undisputed American-born man ever, and since December 12, 2010, the fourth oldest undisputed man ever.


Walter Breuning was born in Melrose, Minnesota. He is the son of John Breuning and Cora Morehouse Breuning, and had two brothers and two sisters.  In 1901 when he was 5, his family moved to DeSmet, South Dakota, where he went to school for nine years until his family broke up in 1910.  Breuning referred to this time as “the dark ages”, as his family lived without electricity, water, or plumbing, describing it as “carry the water in, heat it on the stove. That’s what you took your bath in. Wake up in the dark, go to bed in the dark. That’s not very pleasant”.  Longevity runs in Breuning’s family. His paternal grandparents lived into their 90s, and his siblings lived to ages 78, 85, 91, and 100 although his parents had more typical life spans for their cohorts.

In 1910 aged 14, Breuning dropped out of school; he began scraping bakery pans for $2.50 weekly.  He joined the Great Northern Railway in 1913, working for it for over fifty years. Breuning commented that during his early years, he would have to hide from the railway owner, James J. Hill, as Hill did not want any railroad employees under the age of 18 (Breuning was first hired at age 17).  Breuning worked for the Great Northern Railway until age 66, and was also a manager/secretary for the local Shriner’s club until age 99.  During World War I, he signed up for military service, but was never called up. He moved to Montana in 1918, where he continued working as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway. There, he met Agnes Twokey, a telegraph operator from Butte, Montana. He was married to her from 1922 until her death in 1957. They had no children and Walter never married again stating that “Second marriages never work; even first marriages don’t work today.” When World War II broke out, he was too old to serve.

In later years

Having lived at the Rainbow Retirement and Assisted Living Center in Great Falls Montana for the last 32 years, Breuning is in excellent health, even after a lifelong habit of smoking cigars, which he quit in 1999.  He is able to walk, and eats two meals a day. He still maintains a sharp mind and accurate memory. For example, he can remember his grandfather talking about his experiences in the American Civil War when he (Breuning) was three years old, and remembers the day President William McKinley was shot as the day “I got my first haircut”.  He takes no prescription medications. In November 2007, at the age of 111, Breuning was fitted with hearing aids.

On his 112th birthday, Breuning said the secret to long life is being active: “[If] you keep your mind busy and keep your body busy, you’re going to be around a long time.”

The week before his 113th birthday in September 2009, Breuning had fallen and bruised his scalp, but was otherwise unhurt.

Breuning still dresses in a suit and tie every day. In a recent interview, Breuning said, “Every day I exercise. Every morning I do all my exercises.” On April 24, 2009 at the age of 112, Breuning was interviewed on CBS by Steve Hartman for Assignment America. When asked by Hartman if he would do a second CBS interview in four years, Breuning said, “Well hell you sure can!”

On February 16, 2009, Breuning made an appearance on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, giving his views about the current state of the economy and the newly elected president. Breuning said that the first President he ever voted for was Woodrow Wilson, and that the most memorable news item he ever heard about in his life was the Stock Market Crash of 1929. He also described life during the Great Depression.

On April 24, 2009, Breuning was the focus of a segment done by Steve Hartman’s “Assignment America” on the CBS Evening News.  On September 21, 2009, Breuning was the focus of another such segment. During his 113th birthday celebrations, Breuning said: “Remember that life’s length is not measured by its hours and days, but by that which we have done therein. A useless life is short if it lasts a century. There are greater and better things in us all, if we would find them out. There will always be in this world – wrongs. No wrong is really successful. The day will come when light and truth and the just and the good shall be victorious and wrong as evil will be no more forever.”

The BNSF Railway named the west end of its new Broadview Subdivision, where it meets the ex-Great Northern Laurel Subdivision near Broadview, Montana, “Walter Junction” after Breuning. He was present at the dedication of the new line, which serves the Signal Peak Mine, on September 2, 2009.

On February 25, 2010, Breuning was honored by Montana Ambassadors for shining a spotlight on the state of Montana.

Here’s Some Photos of Walter

In this school photo, Walter is standing under the window, with the “X” above his head.  The slate carries the date of 1907, making Walter about 9 years old.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer chats with Walter.

Walter receives “his copy” of the Guinness Book of World Records, listing him as the World’s Oldest Man.

Weatherman for KRTV Television Fred Pfieffer – N7NMY, with Walter

(This story from Great Falls Area Amateur Radio Club – W7ECA)


UPDATE 6-11 Walter passed away April 2011 at 114 years of age. The current oldest man in the world is a 114 year old man in Japan.

Because of Love – A True Story

January 23, 2010

A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where their elderly parents dwelt with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farm. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life.

The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day’s end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks “Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One.” She is no longer of use to you. It’s been years since you’ve had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?”

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, “Yes, I could use a pair of new boots. His arm slid defensively about the Old One’s neck as he drew her near with gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied softly, “We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love.”

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the “Old One”.

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire’s fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together before the barn. They were speechless as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana.

Brokenly he whispered, “We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old and withered hand.

The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused to rest; looking up to the top of the hill the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top-most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy.  Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.

Bedded down about the “Old One” close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new year’s crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the “Old One” as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife. Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift—

Because of love. Only because of love.

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy… And again the peace of love filled their hearts.

This is a true story.

Willy Eagle

This is an inspirational message sent to a small group of people. My hope is that it will make your day just a little bit better.

Stop a Cold in Just 12 Hours

December 2, 2009

Before your sniffles morph into a nasty sinus, chest or ear infection, here’s how to fight back.

By Sari Harrar

Mugs of tea, a bottle of ibuprofen and a truckload of tissues won’t get you through every case of the sniffles. Too often, the common cold turns into something more serious, zeroing in on your personal weak point to become a sinus infection, a sore throat, a nonstop cough, an attack of bronchitis or an ear infection. And if you’re prone to a particular complication—thanks, perhaps, to an anatomical quirk (such as sinus obstructions), an underlying medical problem (early asthma, for example) or a history of a particular illness (childhood ear infections)—your odds of getting sicker, faster, can skyrocket.

But complications aren’t inevitable, new research shows. “With the right strategies, you can cut your risk significantly,” says Gailen D. Marshall, Ph.D., M.D., director of the division of clinical immunology and allergy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

The trick: Act quickly. “The problem isn’t the virus replicating in your respiratory tract. The congestion and thick, trapped mucus that lead to complications are caused by the immune system’s response to the infection,” says pioneering cold researcher Jack M. Gwaltney, M.D., professor emeritus in the department of internal medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “It all begins within 10 to 12 hours after infection starts. You should take action the minute you feel the first symptoms of a cold—the scratchy throat, runny nose and sneezing.”

If you’re prone to sinus infections

Once a cold virus latches on to cells in your respiratory tract, immune system responders cause blood vessels in your nasal passages to swell and leak fluid. They also boost mucus production and slow down cilia—the microscopic hairs that normally sweep secretions out of your sinuses, ears, and lungs. “This sets the stage for a sinus infection, because viruses and, to a lesser extent, bacteria thrive in trapped mucus,” says Dr. Marshall. The best approach is to keep your nose open. “I preach to my patients all the time: If you can breathe through your nose, the likelihood of developing secondary complications will be much, much lower.” Here’s how:

Use a decongestant. Sprays containing phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine) or oxymetazoline (Afrin) shrink swollen blood vessels in the lining of your nose, allowing mucus to drain. “Sprays work almost instantaneously,” says Dr. Marshall, “but you can’t use them long-term. After three to five days, they can cause rebound congestion—stuffiness returns just a few hours after each dose, tempting you to use the spray more and more frequently.” To avoid this, spray for no more than two or three days, then take two to three days off, he advises. “You’ll be able to use it safely for another two to three days if necessary.”

Try a pill. If you hate sprays, decongestant tablets can also clear your stuffiness, a recent Australian review of cold-remedy research has found. And they can work fast, reports a British study of 238 women and men with stuffy noses: Those who took 60 milligrams of pseudoephedrine (brand name: Sudafed) reported a 30 percent drop in congestion after just one dose. The downside is that decongestant pills make some people very jittery and they can keep you awake, so you shouldn’t take them late in the day. (Sprays don’t have these side effects because they’re topical—only a little is absorbed into the body.) Ask for pseudoephedrine at the counter: Because its ingredients can be used to make the street drug methamphetamine, federal law requires stores to keep pseudoephedrine-containing products behind the counter or locked in a cabinet. Choose one that’s just a decongestant to make sure you get the recommended 60-milligram dose—combination remedies may contain too little decongestant for maximum benefit.

Consider an antihistamine. In recent studies, antihistamines (the old-fashioned kind, like Chlor-Trimeton, not the new non-drowsy formulas) reduced nasal secretions by about 50 percent, says Dr. Gwaltney. The less gunk in your nose, the less there is to become trapped in your sinuses. He suggests taking antihistamines for up to a week; if these make you sleepy, be careful about driving and similar activities.

Thin that mucus. As a cold progresses, nasal secretions grow thicker and thicker because they are carrying away viral particles and sloughed-off respiratory and immune cells. To keep things moving, try an over-the-counter mucus thinner that contains guaifenesin (such as Mucinex), Dr. Marshall advises. “You’ll know within 48 to 72 hours whether it’s helping you,” he says. “Your mucus will be thinner, and it’ll be easier for you to blow your nose.” It’s OK to take one along with a decongestant.

Honk with finesse. Vigorous nose blowing propels nasal fluids up into your sinuses, which can actually cause an infection, Dr. Gwaltney’s studies have found. Hard blowing also triggers “reflex nasal congestion”—more nasal-passage swelling. It sounds silly, but “fewer than half the people we see know how to blow their noses the right way,” says Dr. Marshall. Here’s how: With a tissue over your nose, close one nostril and gently blow the other side for three to five seconds. Switch sides. “It may take several blows, but it works.”

Sip chicken soup. In one lab study from the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, researcher Stephen Rennard, M.D., discovered that his grandmother-in-law’s chicken soup recipe might help relieve some of the inflammation behind cold symptoms. In the test tube, the soup inhibited movement of white blood cells called neutrophils by 75 percent; researchers suspect that in your upper respiratory tract, this curtailed movement could translate into a reduction in cold symptoms.

Warm your sinuses. Placing a comfortably hot washcloth on your cheeks or drinking a cup of hot tea—or doing both—feels good if sinus pressure is building. Warmth may also nudge cilia, which become sluggish when you have a cold, so they sweep back and forth more briskly to whisk mucus along. Inhaling steam in a warm shower also helps, or drape a towel over your head and a basin of very hot water and breathe deeply.

Try andrographis paniculata. This herb is less well-known than other botanicals purported to fight colds, but in one Chilean study of 158 cold sufferers, nasal secretions dried up significantly for those who took 1,200 milligrams of andrographis extract daily for five days. It’s available at natural foods stores; if you try it, follow package dosing directions.

Call the doctor if you have a fever; your face or the area around your eyes is red, swollen or painful; you have a severe headache or neck pain; or your symptoms (sinus pain, pressure, yellowish discharge) haven’t improved after a week’s time.

If you’re prone to acute bronchitis

A few days after cold symptoms appear, you may notice trouble brewing in your lungs. “Upper respiratory tract infections develop in the—no surprise—upper airways and then spread to the lower,” notes Ron Eccles, Ph.D., director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University in Wales. That’s why you start coughing two or three days after a cold begins—a sign your windpipe and the tiny tubes in your lungs are becoming inflamed. These steps can help protect against infection:

Steer clear of cigarettes. Smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke weaken your ability to fight off viruses and bacteria. At the same time, dozens of nasty chemicals in tobacco smoke may cause inflammation in your airways, further slowing the cilia. The result: more coughing, as you try to clear globs of mucus.

Don’t curl up in front of the fire. Breathing in the tiny particles in wood smoke can be especially irritating to airways when you have a cold, says Melvin Pratter, M.D., head of pulmonary and critical-care medicine at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J. One report estimates that emissions from wood fires (as well as coal-fired power plants, cars, and other sources) cause 20,000 cases of acute bronchitis a year. If you use a wood stove for heat, be sure it burns efficiently; best is one certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Skip spray cleaners. Aerosol and pump-bottle products contain chemicals that can irritate lungs, says Dr. Pratter. “When you have a respiratory infection, take a brief holiday from cleaning.”

Try ivy-leaf extract. In a German study of 1,350 children and adults with chronic bronchitis, more than 85 percent of those who took this botanical remedy had less pain, coughing and mucus production. Several varieties of the extract are sold in natural foods stores.

Call the doctor if you have a fever, shortness of breath, or a severe cough; you have asthma, emphysema, or COPD; or you get bronchitis often.

If you’re prone to ear infections

They’re not just kid stuff: About a third of adults with colds wind up with negative air pressure in the middle ear caused by swelling or congestion of the eustachian tubes. These tubes normally let air into the middle ear and, if necessary, drain fluid from it. A blockage or swelling can create a vacuum so that when the tube opens up again it may suck in virus-packed secretions from your nose—and lead to an infection.

To prevent it: Start decongestants—stat! Sprays and pills that shrink swollen nasal passages can help keep your eustachian tubes open, says Dr. Marshall. Don’t waste any time: Those tiny tubes can become blocked quickly—within two to three days after a cold begins.

Don’t pop your ears. Taking a big breath, then forcing the air back into your ears while you close your mouth and hold your nose is a good trick to try when your ears need clearing on an airplane. But it’s best not to use that technique when you have a cold—you may push infected mucus into the ears.

Avoid smoke. In laboratory studies, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that repeated exposure to tobacco smoke (cigarettes, pipes, cigars) slowed down cilia in the eustachian tubes. “That’s not helpful if you’re trying to move mucus down the tubes and away from your middle ear,” says Birgit Winther, M.D., of the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville.

Call the doctor if you have a fever, severe headache, dizziness, worsening pain or hearing, or there’s swelling around your ear.

Help your body heal

Give in to sleep. When you have a cold, high levels of immune system chemicals called cytokines make you sleepier than usual. Don’t fight it: Shorting your sleep for even one night blunts the body’s immune response. If a cough is keeping you up, try Advil, Aleve or another NSAID, says Dr. Gwaltney. These block prostaglandins, which experts suspect trigger the cough reflex.

Avoid intense workouts. They can make symptoms worse. But moderate activity like a 30- to 45-minute walk won’t hurt—and, by boosting immune function, could help you fend off your next cold.

Eat lightly. Your immune system dials back appetite during a cold, presumably to conserve energy and body heat for the big fight against viral invaders. Just be sure to drink plenty of fluids—they help thin mucus.

Relax. In a study of 55 people experimentally exposed to a flu virus, those who reported more stress developed more severe symptoms and released more of the immune system chemicals that cause inflammation. The same happens with cold viruses, say the researchers.

At-home Rx: Sinus Trouble: The Saline Solution

A daily saline rinse may reduce sinus symptoms by as much as 72 percent and even cut the number of infections for those with chronic sinus problems, researchers from England’s Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital concluded after reviewing a series of studies. This ancient remedy softens and removes crusty mucus, thins nasal secretions, and helps wash away viral particles, bacteria, and irritating immune system compounds. You can purchase a sinus-rinsing tool called a neti pot at a natural foods store, get a special attachment for electric water-jet irrigators (like Water Pik), use a squeeze-bottle sinus rinse (such as NeilMed rinse), or simply cup your hand to deliver the saline solution to your nose.

The recipe: Mix 1/2 teaspoon non-iodized salt, plus 1 pinch baking soda, with 8 ounces warm water.

Rinsing directions: Lean over the sink with your head down (some neti-pot instructions advise tilting your head to the side slightly). Gently squirt the saline into each nostril (or inhale, one nostril at a time, from your palm). Breathing through your mouth at the same time will help keep the solution from entering your mouth. (If it does get in, spit it out.) Gently blow your nose. Repeat until you’ve used the 8 ounces of salt water.

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