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104 years old and still smiling

Harold Johnson was all smiles Thursday as he celebrates his 104th birthday during a party at Willmar Commons. Johnson has celebrated more than 100 birthdays in the Willmar area. He chalks up his longevity to his faith and some good fortune along the way. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

Friends and family gathered Thursday in Willmar to celebrate Harold Johnson's 104th birthday.

The birthday party at Willmar Commons was one of more than 100 birthdays Johnson has now celebrated in the Willmar area.

Johnson was born on a farm just south of Willmar in 1906 and farmed in the area his entire life.

In 2008, he moved to Willmar Commons skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. According to information provided by Willmar Commons, Johnson considers farming his grea-test accomplishment in life.

"I love the great outdoors," Johnson said in a statement. Though he no longer devotes his days to farming, the centenarian remains active in Bible study at Willmar Commons.

Johnson had a major part in the facility's Christmas program, according to Shirley Capistrant, activities director at Willmar Commons.

Capistrant said that when Johnson is not visiting, playing bingo or attending educational programs, he can be found in his room reading his Bible.

Faith is what Johnson credits to his monumental age, along with health and a little luck -- "As long as I can have it," Johnson said.

Though he grew up the fourth of 12 children and has been widowed twice, Johnson never had any children of his own.

Looking back on his 104 years of life, he said his favorite memory of family is love. His birthday wish for his 105th?

"I'd like to see the countries get along," Johnson said.