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At 106, Neenah woman says secret to long life: dessert and orange juice

Erma Peters at 106
Posted at 6:28 PM, Dec 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-14 19:31:25-05
  • Erma Peters celebrated her 106th birthday on December 10th this year.
  • A lifelong Wisconsinite originally from Abbotsford, Erma is the first resident of the city's first senior care center.
  • Watch to get a peak at some of the things invented AFTER Erma was born... including a certain pro football team!

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Bubblegum, Penicillin, sliced bread: those are just a few things younger than a woman living here at Valley VNA Senior Center.

I'm your Neenah Neighborhood Reporter Darby McCarthy, and I got to meet Erma Peters who just turned 106.

“Well, I came from a family of 10. I was the middle one. Now I have one sister — the youngest one is living; she’s 92.”

In 1917, Erma Peters was born. That's 18 presidents ago, when Woodrow Wilson was in office.

She's lived through two World Wars, several pandemics, and Prohibition.

When she was born, the Green Bay Packers weren't around yet. They were founded when Erma was two years old.

Erma lives at Valley VNA Senior Center surrounded by friends and caretakers who say she is like family to them.

“It is like another family, and our grandma just turned 106 years young.”

Jessica Blake is one of Erma's caretakers, and she says Erma is a spitfire.

“Erma's really sassy. I actually have a video of Erma making it rain”

“What makes you happy?”

“Just to see my friends and act silly.”

Erma was born in Abbotsford, Wisconsin to the Colby family, and she moved to Neenah where she worked for Gilbert Paper Company.

Back then, some things were very different.

“We couldn’t work if we were married. They didn't want pregnant women.”

She married her husband, John Peters, and had twin daughters. Over the years, she also has two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“Is there a lesson you've learned in your years on this earth?”

“To be friendly.”

“That's a good one.”

“And be nice to people.”

I asked Erma about the secret to making it to 106, and she told me it's simple:

"Just eat a lot of dessert and drink orange juice."