There were at least 104 reasons those in attendance at the Pickerington Senior Center were all smiles Jan. 21.
The center's monthly luncheon had a very special guest in Pickerington resident Myra Noethlich, who celebrated her 104th birthday surrounded by an assemblage of friends and family to help share in the joy.
After a noon lunch, guests were given the ultimate treat -- a brief, yet rousing, piano performance by the talented Myra.
She played an upbeat, jazzy number she composed herself that spoke volumes through beautiful notes about her staying power on this planet.
Noethlich explained the process behind her longevity in clear and concise terms: steer clear of vices and surround yourself with friends and family.
"I don't drink alcohol and don't smoke," Noethlich said.
"I used to enjoy alcohol but I don't anymore," she said.
"I have a wonderful family that takes good care of me. That's why I live so long."
Noethlich was born on a farm in rural Lee County, Ky., in 1910, long before technological advances overtook the farthest reaches of American society.
"We didn't have a phone when I was born. I was (sick) and my dad had to get on a mule and ride into town to bring the doctor," Noethlich said.
She took up driving at age 13, an activity that would frowned upon -- and illegal -- today.
"Don't tell anybody," she joked.
After graduating from high school in 1928, the University of Kentucky beckoned.
Noethlich received her bachelor of arts degree with honors in botany from UK in 1934, however, she made it known her allegiances still lie with her beloved Ohio State University Buckeyes.
"For sure, of course," Noethlich said. "They've been good to me."
She started her career with the state of Ohio in the 1940s and retired in 1975.
In between she married Fred "Fritz" Noethlich and had a family.
Sons Jerry and Keith were later joined by their wives, Betsy and Polly.
Grandchildren Greg, Molly and Meg followed.
She also has five great-grandchildren: Savannah, Ben, Sophia, Jonathan and Josie.
Noethlich has been a resident of Pickerington since 1998.
Besides playing the piano, daughter-in-law Polly Noethlich said Myra still displays a fondness for gardening.
"We always go to Meijer's for ideas on gardening. She has a wonderful green thumb," Polly Noethlich said.
Myra held up her hands and looked at her thumbs.
"She said they're green. I don't think so, well, I guess they are green," she quipped.
Family and neighbors check in with Myra frequently, including next door neighbor Dorothy Wilson.
"I telephone her, take her to the mail (box), just say 'hi' to her, we've been good friends," Wilson said.
Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray presented an official proclamation Jan. 21 for "Myra Noethlich Day" to enthusiastic applause that echoed throughout the hall.
"It's a big birthday, one many of us would like to reach," Gray said.
Then it came time for her performance, which left the audience speechless.
"We call this one 'Myra's Ditty,' she wrote it herself," Polly Noethlich said.
When asked how she still keeps playing so beautifully after all these years, Myra shrugged and held out her hands.
"It just happens," she said.