102 Club

South Carolina

South Carolina welcomes seven centenarians into 10² Club

South Carolina Talking Book Event - Johnson Family
Caption: Front row (left to right): Carolyn Sung, NLS Network Division chief; Louise Johnson, 105, of Columbia; and Pamela Davenport, South Carolina State Library Talking Book Services director. Back row (left to right): Allison Wall, Johnson’s granddaughter, and Helen Royall, Johnson’s daughter.

At an October 27, 2006, ceremony in Columbia, South Carolina, honoring seven centenarian members of NLS’s talking-book program, a participant asked the oldest woman at the gathering, "My goodness, how do you live to be 105 years old?"

Louise Johnson, 105, of Columbia, didn't miss a beat. She replied, "You just breathe in and out for a hundred years and the rest is easy."

South Carolina State Library’s Talking Book Services inducted six other women along with Johnson into the 10² Talking-Book Club at the state library. The honorees included Frances Claus, 101, of Spartanburg; Lillian May, 100, of Leesville; Emma Milling, 102, of Greenville; Julia Prentiss, 101, of Johns Island; and Catherine Robinson and Dorothy Williams, both 100, of Summerville. Each recipient received a letter and a certificate signed by NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke and a 10² Club pin. The event launched the South Carolina chapter of the national reading program.

Johnson, the oldest inductee, was also the only honoree who could attend the ceremony. She lives an active life, spending much of her time reading, entertaining friends at home, and going outdoors regularly. "I’m so thrilled to be honored," Johnson remarked about the award. "I don’t know what I would do without this wonderful reading program." Johnson attended with her daughter Helen Royall and granddaughter Allison Wall.

"It warms my heart to know that someone that age—105—is actually getting library materials and reading them," said Talking Book Services director Pamela Davenport. "Mrs. Johnson is so bright and just knows everything. She is so humorous and such an inspiration. Knowing her has been a highlight of my career," Davenport said. At the ceremony, the regional librarian told Johnson, "You’re my new best friend." Johnson swiftly replied, "You bet!" Johnson lives in Columbia, making it easy for Davenport to stop in and say hello. "I go by and visit with her often and enjoy her company more each time I see her."

State library interim director Curtis Rogers spoke at the observance, listing milestones in history that occurred on the same day as the October event more than one hundred years ago. Rogers noted that in 1901, the year Johnson was born, Guglielmo Marconi sent the first transatlantic wireless message from Corwall, United Kingdom, to Newfoundland.

NLS Network Division chief Carolyn Hoover Sung, a native South Carolinian, spoke at the occasion. Participants included past Talking Book Services directors Guynell Williams and Frances Case; the commissioner of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, James Kirby; the director of governmental/community relations for South Carolina Educational Television, Ray Sharpe; and representatives from local chapters of the National Federation of the Blind. Two Columbia television stations covered the induction ceremony.

All seven 10² Club members have applauded the talking-book program. Some said the program was an invaluable service that kept them up-to-date on current issues and on local and world events. Their reading interests range from romance novels to historical nonfiction.