Montana has one of the fastest-growing 65-and-older populations in the nation, with 1,065 people turning 65 every month, according to DPHHS. It's a trend that is expected to continue at that rate for the next 16 years. The centenarian population, however, keeps growing. According to an August 2017 census report by the Department of Health and Human Services, 119 centenarians live in Montana, 23 of whom live in Yellowstone County. Barney Myers is the oldest person in the county.
When Myers was 104 he went to the gym three times a week and drove himself there too. He claims being physically and mentally fit is what has kept him alive so long. Now at 107, Myers doesn't go to the gym nor does he drive or live independently. However he continues to stay active by taking walks, finishing Sudoku books and visiting with friends. He believes reflecting on the past keeps his mind sharp.
Myers was just 8 years old when World War I ended. It was Nov. 11, 1918. He has lived through the Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War II. He was married to the love of his life, Margaret, for 61 years. He took care of her while she battled Alzheimer’s until she died in 1996.
“The thing about tragedy — it always happens,” Myers said. “You can’t bring them back, so you might as well go on.”
That philosophy reflects how he approaches every day. Even though 50 people celebrated his birthday last week, he didn't treat the day as anything special.
"It doesn't mean much to me," Myers said. "A lot of people make quite a bit of it, but it's just another day."