The Birthday Wish of a 105-Year-Old Activist

“I want to tell you about an extraordinary woman, most people have never heard of…”

So begins a video chronicling the story of Edythe Kirchmaier—a truly unique woman.

At age 105, she is Facebook’s oldest registered user, California’s oldest licensed driver and the University of Chicago’s oldest living former student.

Luck, laughter and aging well

Most people are not as fortunate as Kirchmaier, who has witnessed the birth of 17 great-grandchildren, and is still able to live independently.

Luck has undoubtedly played a role in helping her maintain her health and independence.

Just a few weeks ago, serendipity intervened in a powerful way when an observant neighbor saved Kirchmaier from being crushed beneath a falling tree branch while fetching her Saturday morning paper, local news outlet, 3 KEY News, reports.

In a January 24th interview on the Ellen Degeneres Show, Degeneres implored Kirchmaier to divulge the secrets of her successful aging.

“I do have a secret,” she says with a smile. “But if I tell it, then it won’t be a secret.”

Kirchmaier eventually gave in, citing a positive attitude, a sense of humor, supportive family and friends, and a tendency to just let things go, as key to maintaining her health as she got older.

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Facebook’s Oldest User Makes Big-Hearted Birthday Wish originally appeared on

A big-hearted birthday wish

It isn’t Kirchmaier’s centenarian status, or her sterling driving record (she’s never received a traffic ticket, parking citation, or been involved in an accident), that make her one of a kind—it is her heart.

For over 40 years, Kirchmaier has been a volunteer for Direct Relief International, a charity that provides medicines and other health care supplies to impoverished areas nationwide, and around the globe.

In a 2012 video interview on the Direct Relief website, Kirchmaier discusses the profound sense of pride she takes in the charity’s work and how much she values being able to be involved in their mission.

She also shares an inspiring message that is one part birthday wish, two parts challenge. “What I would really like, when I am 105, is to see 105,000 people ‘liking’ Direct Relief on Facebook,” she says.

As one of her fellow volunteers attests, Kirchmaier is fond of saying, “I love Direct Relief and I want the world to love Direct Relief.”

“Edythe’s 105th Birthday Challenge,” has garnered national attention, with Kirchmaier making appearances on the Ellen Degeneres Show and Access Hollywood and receiving shout-outs from luminaries such as Jane Lynch and Nicholas Kristof.

If you would like to help make Edythe’s 105th birthday wish come true, you can visit Direct Relief International’s home page, or log on and light a candle on the world’s largest virtual cake on the Direct Relief Facebook page (which, as of the publishing of this article, has 67,000 likes, and counting).

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By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor


Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins4 years ago

I can imagine vampires and Time Lords going, "105? That is so young she is practically a newborn!"

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal4 years ago


Lorrie Crawford
Lorrie Crawford4 years ago

What an incredible lady!!! I am off to 'Like' her charity on Facebook. Thanks for sharing this great story!

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago


katarzyna phillips

it's the positive attitude that helps people live long and full lives. when i used to be a carer in the community, one of my regular clients i helped out was 103 years old. she still lived by herself and only needed help with washing her back, opening the milk and doing the weekly shopping as she couldn't carry a lot. she always had a smile on her face and was always looking forward to tomorrow and what surprises it would bring. interestingly, diet also plays a significant part as well, as another client, although only 98, said she never drank or smoked and it was only due to being deaf in one ear and from having some fingers cut off from an accident in the factory she once worked at; that she actually needed any help! and i believe it's china which has the most people who live beyond 100!

Lika S.
Lika P5 years ago

I love her. Awesome woman!

Georgeta Trandafir


Connie T.
Past Member 5 years ago

LIKE X 1,0000000000000000000000000000000000000000!

Robyn Town
Robyn Town5 years ago

What a rare gem

Malgorzata Zmuda
Malgorzata Zmuda5 years ago

Happy Birthday! Kolejnych 100 lat w otoczeniu przyjaciół.