Ora E. Holland, the oldest known living Oklahoman, celebrated 112 years of life Saturday with friends and family and all of the spunk of her past several birthdays.
“I'm 112 and that's just about all I know,” said Holland, who recently transitioned from her own home in Tulsa to an assisted living center in Oklahoma City. “I can't live like most people do; I just do the best I can.”
Holland doesn't dwell on her age, and said she doesn't have any secrets for living well past 100.
Her grandson, T.J. Davis, said his grandmother is healthy, active and full of zip.
“She loves to play cards, especially bridge,” Davis said. “She's a card shark, so if there's a mention of playing for money, hide your wallet.”
Holland was born in Missouri on Dec. 24, 1900, to a farming family. The third of 12 siblings, Holland has outlived them all.
She married Thomas Holland, of Broken Arrow, in 1923. The couple were married 18 years.
Holland's daughter, Ruth Davis, lives in Texas. Her only other child was stillborn.
Described by her family and friends as an entrepreneur, Holland started one of the first professional baby-sitting services in Dallas. She also operated a beauty salon for more than a decade.
She lived in Tulsa for about 25 years before relocating to Oklahoma City less than a year ago.
Prior to living in Tulsa, Holland had lived in Texas and in her home state of Missouri.
Until recently, Holland lived on her own, often cooking for herself from scratch and mowing her own lawn.
When she turned 100, she bought a new car.
Now, she's sitting back and letting others care for her.
She said her high heels have been replaced by house shoes and she now uses a walker or a wheelchair to get around sometimes. Other than losing her eyesight and hearing somewhat, she said she's in excellent health.
“I don't know how long I'll be here, but I'm here now,” Holland said.
The Rev. Richard Ziglar, executive director of the Northeast Active Timers, a Tulsa-based group that caters to seniors, particularly those older than 100, said there are about 300 known centenarians living in the state.
“Some of them have told me that it's hard work, keeping active or having strong faith that's allowed them to live to as long as they have,” Ziglar said. “Others say it's drinking a glass of wine every day or eating chocolate. ... Some say it's because they're ornery or that they've stayed off medication.”
Ziglar said Holland's spirit and faith are apparent to everyone who knows her.
“We don't know of anyone living in the state who is older than Ora,” he said. “And she's very much with it.”
Lonna Mowles, activities coordinator at Heritage Assisted Living in Oklahoma City, said Holland is quick and witty.
“It's such a pleasure having her here,” Mowles said. “She's as cute as can be, and I love being around her.”