At 100 years old, Miriam Burris still has a head full of white, fluffy hair, a radiant smile and a charming chuckle that could brighten anyone's day.

Her wisdom and delightful disposition have served her and others well over the years.

Burris, a resident of Magnolias of Santee, is one of six children born to the late Benjamin Tillman Ott and Florence Myers Ott.

She was born in Orangeburg County near Elloree and celebrated her 100th birthday on June 1.

How does she feel?

"I feel fine. I'm not as spry as I used to be. I look back when I was a child, and I cannot imagine the difference it has been. One hundred years. When I was a child, we didn't have many automobiles. Now they're everywhere," she said.

Outside of gathering eggs, she recalled not having very much hard work to do while growing up.

"I had to gather the eggs. It was easy," she said.

Her family had a car as well as a horse and buggy.

"My father had a car when he was courting my mother," she said.

Burris, a former math teacher, recalled going to a community school located out in the country.

"I think we had one teacher for several grades," she said.

Burris launched her own teaching career after graduating from Winthrop University.

"Oh, I loved teaching. I had so many good students. They never gave me any trouble. They were so good," she said.

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Burris appreciates the good care her doctor provides for her.

"My doctor is real good. I only have a little bit of medicine, mostly aspirin," she said. Burris says she has a walker, but it is one that she doesn't use.

While she doesn't walk as far as she used to, Burris still gets a good workout walking around her assisted living home.

"I walk and do everything for myself," she said.

Her niece, Nancy Gatewood, said, "She used to walk all the way down to the Presbyterian church and back every day. But now she just walks in here (Magnolias of Santee). There's plenty of halls to walk up and down, but that way should she fall, she's inside and not out on the street by herself."

Gatewood is among Burris' 10 nieces and nephews, all of whom love her very much.

"We play Tri-Ominos and put puzzles together. So she stays active mentally, too," Gatewood said.

Burris was married to the late Thomas Donald Burris for more than 60 years. She had no children but appreciates the love and care she shares among her nieces and nephews.

"I had 11 nieces and nephews, but one of them has died. So I have 10, and they're all just so good to me," she said.

Burris' family threw a party for her on June 1 at the Holiday Inn in Santee. She received more than 100 cards, along with flowers and several letters from her former students.

"Oh gosh, so many people came. I thanked them for coming. It was amazing. It makes me feel humble, very humble," Burris said. She has most of her cards hanging up on the doors of her room.

Gatewood said, "She had two nephews from Texas here and a whole bunch of nieces and nephews from Florida and Tennessee and all over South Carolina."

During the birthday celebration, candy bars and bookmarks with lessons "Aunt Mickey" taught her family were given out. Those lessons include: put God first, laugh at yourself and share.

Burris believes in staying active physically and mentally and spends most of her time playing solitaire, Sudoku and completing word searches and jigsaw puzzles.

After living 100 years, her advice for others simple.

"Don't give up. I don't know if I ever will," she said.

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Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD


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