World’s Oldest Man

April 15, 2011 by staff 

World’s Oldest Man, (AP) – Walter Breuning earliest memories of going back 111 years, before you came home entertainment with a touch of the radio dial. They were the stories of his grandfather to kill Southerners in the Civil War.

Breuning was 3 and horrified. “I thought it was a hell of a thing to say”

But the stories stuck, becoming the building blocks for the first time in what would become a seemingly simple philosophy that Breuning, the world’s oldest man at 114 before he died Thursday, credited to its longevity.

Here is the world’s oldest man secret for long life:

- Embrace change, even when the change hits in the face. (“Any change is good.”)

- Eating two meals a day (“That’s all you need.”)

- (‘. That money would be useful “) work, as long as they can

- Helping others (“The more you do for others, the best way you’re in.”)

Then there is the hardest part. Breuning is a lesson he said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.

“We’re going to die. Some people are afraid to die. Never be afraid to die. As you are born to die,” he said.

Breuning died of natural causes at a hospital in Great Falls, where he had been patient for most of April with an undisclosed illness, said Stacia Kirby, a spokesman for the main retirement home life of the rainbow, where he lived Breuning.

He was the oldest man in the world and the second oldest person, according to the headquarters in Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group. Besse Cooper of Monroe, Georgia – born 26 days earlier – is the oldest person in the world.

In an interview with The Associated Press at his home in the Rainbow Community retirement in Great Falls last October, Breuning told the last century – and what are its revelations and developments meant to him – with wit and plain-spokenness that defines it. His life story is in some way, a piece of the history of the country for over a century.


As the new century – the century is 20 – Breuning moved with his family from Melrose, Minn., to De Smet, SD, where his father had taken a job as an engineer.

That first decade of the 1900s was literally a dark time for his family. They had no electricity or running water. A bath for the young Walter requires his mother to fetch water from the well outside and heat in the coal stove. When they wanted to move, I had three choices: train, horse and foot.

His parents separated and Breuning moved to Minnesota in 1912. The following year, as Henry Ford was building its first assembly line, the teenager got a low-level work with the Great Northern Railway in Melrose.

“I have 16 years of age, had to go to work because of the disintegration of the family,” he said.

That was the beginning of a 50-year career on the railroad. He was employed most of the time, working seven days a week.

In 1918, his boss was promoted to a position in Great Falls and asked to come Breuning.

There was a lot of maintenance Breuning in Minnesota. His mother had died the previous year at age 46 and his father died in 1915 at age 50. Montana’s work comes with a nice raise – and 90 per month for working seven days a week, “a lot of money then,” he said.

Breuning, young and single, was overwhelmed at first. Great Falls is a bustling town of 25,000 with hundreds of people coming and going every day on trains arriving at all hours.

“You go to the store and have 500 people out there climbing all four trains running in four directions,” he said.

The First World War was still raging in Europe, and Breuning, who had just turned 20, signed for military service, but was not called. Wanted to join a military unit formed by Ralph Budd, who was vice president of the railroad at the time and later became its president.

Budd He sent an application, and the response was disappointing. Breuning said Budd could not join the group because he wanted the young to get a college education. The war ended that year.

“So I never got into the war. The war ended too quickly for me,” Breuning said.


The 19 Th Amendment gave women the right to vote in 1919 and the nation was a wave of post-war in the 20′s crazy.

Walter Breuning bought his first car this year.

Ford was a second-hand and cost only 150. Breuning recalled driving around town and scaring the horses that have filled the dirt streets.

“We damn fugitives in those days,” Breuning said. “Horses are just afraid of cars.”

The year may have started well but fell apart quickly. The drought hit. The price of hay soared and farmers had to sell their livestock. It was the first wave of agricultural depression affect Montana in the next two decades.

The railroad began lying off people. Breuning had some old, so instead of losing his job, he moved to Butte. It was there he met his future wife, Agnes.

Twokey Agnes worked for the railroad as a telegrapher. She and Breuning worked the same shift at the office, and got along very well. Their friendship became a courtship of two years and then married and returned to Great Falls.

Things were improving for Breuning, Montana and the nation. Great Falls Montana gave his first radio station licensed in 1922. The following year, Jack Dempsey and Tommy Gibbons fought for the world heavyweight championship east of Great Falls to Shelby.

Breuning was upbeat. He and his wife bought the property and 15 and plans to build a house.

Then everything went off the tracks. The Great Depression hit.

“Everyone got laid off in the 30″ Breuning said. “. No one had any money at all in 1933, built the civic center here Sixty-five cents an hour, you know that was the largest salary wages -.”

People began arriving in Great Falls in search of work. Transplants recalled telling stories North Dakota’s families desperate pulling weeds from the earth and cooking up for food.

Breuning paid back old – who kept his job. But he and his wife, his house was never built. Sold the lot for 25 and making a tidy profit and 10. Proved to be the only time Breuning never owned property – which was tenant for the rest of his life.

Despite the difficult times of the decade, said that he considered the nations greatest achievement came in 1935, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law as part of his New Deal.

“I think when Roosevelt created Social Security, which probably did the best for the people,” Breuning said. “You hear so much of Social Security pull out. Do not look for it. Replace the hat. Never go.”


World War II lifted the nation from its economic crisis. Industry was in full swing to support the war. With men headed overseas to fight, women took their places in factories.

Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first woman elected to Congress, was the only vote against U.S. entry in the war.

At that time, Breuning was about 40 years too old to be drafted. So I kept working on the railroad.

The man who preached otherwise kindness and service to others acknowledged that he had mixed feelings about the war and the Nazis. There was some sympathy for Hitler.

The war ended in 1945 when President Harry Truman dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The debate over whether Truman did the right thing is said in the streets and cafes of Great Falls.

Breuning Truman stuck to saying that probably would have been more people killed Truman had not taken the decision to bomb the Japanese.

“I think we did pretty dang good,” Breuning said. “But you know, all presidents have done something good. Well, most of them. Except the last.”

Breuning, who describes himself as a Republican, President George W. meant Bush.

“He got us into war. We can not leave the war now,” he said. “I voted for him. But that’s all. His father was a very good president, not too bad. The boy had too much power. He stood up and wrapped that’s all.”


The 1950′s brought the rock and roll, to the U.S. in the midst of the Korean War and began the space race with the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. The world was introduced to Elvis Presley, Fidel Castro and Senator Joseph McCarthy.

For Walter Breuning, the 1950 were marked by the death of his wife. Agnes died in 1957 after 35 years of marriage. The couple had no children.

Over 50 years later, Breuning keeps her feelings about her marriage and the death of Agnes watched.

“We get along very well,” was all he would say. “She did not want to spend money, I assure you.”

Breuning never remarried. “The thought of him. That’s all.”

He did what he always did. He kept working.

The work was a constant in the lives of Breuning, which did get through tough times and what you use to keep your mind active. One of the worst things a person can do is to retire young, Breuning said.

“I remember there was a worker at the First National Bank when he retired early. I wanted to go fishing and hunting so bad. Two months (later) and returned to the bank. Earned his fishing and hunting done everything and he wanted to return to work, “Breuning said.

“Do not be withdrawn until you damn sure can not work more. Keep working all the time you can work and you will find that is good for you,” he added.

The same year the Beatles released their first album; Breuning decided it was time for him to retire from the railroad at age 67. It was 1963 and had put in 50 years as a railroad worker.

But he kept his philosophy and kept working. He became the manager and the secretary of the local chapter of the Shriners, a position he held until he was 99.

But he remained a railroad man fiercely loyal, so loyal that he took a plane only once in his life, and that he would attend the funeral of a relative in Minneapolis.

His beloved rail suffered many changes soon after he left. In 1970 it merged with other railway companies to become the Burlington Northern Railroad.

Your employee’s man began to feel the effects of technology. In the 1970′s, computers began to change industries and the need for labor. In the railway, the men and women were fired from tanks and freight offices. Breuning superintendents and secretaries were given walking papers.

But even with many of his former co-workers of jobs, Breuning insists that the rise of the computer was good for the railroad industry and the world.

“I think all the changes we have made ever since I was a kid – 100 years – every change has been good for the people,” Breuning said. “My God, I used to have to write with pen and ink, you know, (for) everything. When the machines arrived, just made life much easier.”


Breuning had lived in a small studio apartment at the top center of the rainbow of life in retirement since 1980.

When he was recognized as the oldest man in the world and brought some notoriety retirement home, he was offered a larger room. Breuning said no, the executive director Tina Bundtrock Rainbow said in October.

Breuning spent his days in a chair outside the office of Bundtrock in a dark suit and tie, sitting near a framed certificate proclaiming Guinness world’s oldest man.

He ate breakfast and lunch and then retire to your room in the afternoon. Had visited the doctor only twice a year for checkups and the only medication he would take aspirin, Bundtrock said.

Her good health was due to his strict diet of two meals a day, Breuning said.

“How many people in this country say they can not take the weight?” said. “I tell these people, he says:” Get a diet and stay there. You will find that you are in a much better feel good ‘. ”

He had no family, but left a niece and a nephew. We visited a couple of times in the retirement home, but were unrelated to him, he said.

Breuning real family, her support group was there at the Arco Iris.

“Yes, we are one big family, I assure you. All talk to each other all the time. That’s what makes life goes. You speak,” he said.

Breuning current spoken with other residents. One of the main reasons was to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The war never heals anything. Look at North and south right now. They are still fighting over the damn war. I’ll never get over that,” he said.

Along with the other debate about the fate of the nation, Breuning was too much time for reflection. Sitting in his chair, would come across the century, and lost in a sea of?? Memories that began with the stories of his grandfather’s Civil War.

He thought about what might have been. After 97 years in Montana, Breuning said he thought back to her move to Great Falls in 1913.

What course have you been, how different would the century have been for him if he had stayed in Minnesota?

“Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had moved to Great Falls. I think from time to time. What would have happened?” Breuning said. “I had a good job back (in Minnesota). But life is good here too.”

But no regrets about anything, and he implored others to follow his philosophy.

“Everyone says that his mind is the most important thing about your body. His mind and body. You’re still so busy, and by God I’ll be here long,” he said.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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