- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Waldo McBurney has never been stung by a bee.

Named yesterday as the nation’s oldest worker, Mr. McBurney, 104, has been keeping bees and selling their honey for more than a half-century.

Mr. McBurney said yesterday that the simple things in life have kept him in shape.

“Watch your diet and don’t forget to take your exercise. You need to think right, too,” he said.

“I have never smoked; I don’t know the taste of tobacco. And I don’t know the taste of alcohol.”

Mr. McBurney has worked all his life, beginning when he was a child on a farm in the small town of Quinter in western Kansas.

A 1927 graduate of Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University) with a degree in horticulture, Mr. McBurney spent 25 years in agriculture, with 17 years as a county agricultural agent, three years as a teacher and three years with the Midwest Cooperative in Quinter.

After his tenures in agriculture, Mr. McBurney began a career as an entrepreneur, doing work such as bookkeeping, tax preparation, sharpening cultivation disks for farmers’ machinery, cleaning planting seeds and beekeeping to sell honey.

Although he dabbled in many businesses, beekeeping and the sale of honey is something he has been doing for 56 years.

Mr. McBurney and 52 other older workers from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were honored yesterday by Experience Works, an Arlington nonprofit that provides job training and employment services for older Americans.

Eighty is the average age of the workers, said Cynthia A. Metzler, president and chief executive officer of Experience Works.

“This country cannot afford to lose the knowledge and the expertise of these very, very wonderful people,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, who introduced Mr. McBurney at yesterday’s press conference.

“If I looked forward 25 or 50 years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed that any such thing would come,” said Mr. McBurney, who celebrated his birthday on Tuesday.

“I’ve had very little suffering,” he said.

A key to his health has been his active lifestyle, which has involved long hours on the farm, tending his hives and an activity he took up at 65 — long-distance running.

“I suppose in the running field, my 10-mile race at age 80 would be about the top for my athletics. And that race was 24 years ago, and I still hold the Kansas record.”

He also holds records for running, long jump, discus and shot put at the Senior Olympics and World Masters Athletics Championships, where he competed during his 90s and into his 100s.

When he is not keeping bees and selling honey, Mr. McBurney is marketing his book, “My First 100 Years,” from his office in Quintar.

Staying on a healthy diet doesn’t mean abstaining from the things one enjoys, he said — it’s a matter of taking things easy. He cited breakfast as an example.

“Breakfast is getting simple. It’s often cold cereal, with banana chops on it and a little honey sprinkled on it. Perhaps a slice of toast … with honey on it, of course. And a cup of green tea.”

Local winners were:

• Vivian Rouson, 77, of the District, an administrative assistant for St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church.

• James Kesselring, 70, of Swanton, Md., chairman of the Western Maryland Workforce Investment Boards for Garrett County and quality support manager for Garrett Container Systems Inc.

• Alexandria resident Myrna Mouchon, 76, who works with the Fairfax County Public Library Talking Books program, helping blind and visually impaired people find books.

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