Winter Haven, FL - When Ann Harter turns 108 today the Winter Haven woman will be given a key to the city of Winter Haven from Mayor Nathaniel Birdsong. At Spring Haven Retirement community where she lives it's been declared "Ann Harter" day. Lisa Roberts an Enrichment Coordinator from the center's corporate office says they've encouraged residents and staff to dress up in tropical clothing to honor Harter during a birthday party this afternoon.
Roberts says Ann moved from Czechoslovakia to Patterson, New Jersey when she was 7 years old. Her parents didn't speak English but Ann's friends were kind enough to teach her. The first meal she ate after she arrived in the United States was a hot dog and she says she still loves them to this day.
Harter and her husband courted for 4 years before they were married. She says while they were never given the gift of children Charlie made her life complete and they were married for 66 years until he passed away. Harter lived alone until she turned 100 years old. But after her husband died she moved to Spring Haven Retirement community.
She attributes her long life to walking a lot, eating vegetables, not drinking alcohol or smoking, keeping "good hours" and drinking milk. While she can't walk anymore she still exercises from her chair and bed. Her eyes are failing her too but Roberts says her mind is as sharp as can be.
Harter comes from a family with a long history of longevity. She cared for her mother who lived to be 101. Her grandmother lived to be 102 and her great-grandmother 103.
Roberts adds, "Although we have no way of officially confirming it - it appears she may be the oldest living resident of Polk County."