PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There aren’t too many people left who were alive for both the sinking of the Titanic and the election of the nation’s first black president.
But, at 107-years-old, Janet Wharton, of the Hill District, is one of them.
Born in South Carolina on March 29, 1911, Wharton grew up in Pittsburgh, lived for a time in New York City, and eventually returned to the city where she and her five siblings were raised.
When KDKA visited her home on her birthday, Janet was wearing a crown, “reigning” as queen over her friends and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. While our cameras rolled, she faced a cake decorated with three huge candles — “one-oh-seven” — and blew them all out with one breath to the cheers of the group. She wouldn’t say what she wished for!
So, did Janet avoid certain foods, or vices, or follow a special routine to make it to 107?
“I ate everything that was nailed down,” she laughed. But she never smoked, “and I never did drink either, but maybe I should have.”
Exercise was working, raising her late daughter, caring for her late husband and dancing to her favorite jazz and R&B songs.
As a young woman, Wharton trained as a beautician, operating Jan’s Salon of Beauty starting in the mid-50s. She also went to school for nursing and worked as a private duty nurse, was well known for her beautiful voice, singing in the church choir, and for her cooking, baking and elaborate crafts, which she kept making up until a few years ago.
She traveled far and wide, with her favorite a trip to Hawaii, and enjoyed volunteering, especially with the church food bank.
She still loves to play cards and spend time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, like granddaughter Cynthia Wilson, who feels very lucky to still have her grandmother around after all these years.
“It’s so unbelievable that my grandmother is here at 107-years-old, and it’s a blessing that I can be here to see her,” Wilson said.
Wharton is still in relatively good health, and has a sharp mind according to her family, who still take her wise advice.
And her advice for everyone, whether you’re age 7 or 107?
“I try to enjoy every day. I didn’t wait and say I’ll do it tomorrow. I did it today,” she said with a satisfied smile and a twinkle in her eye. “I’ve had a good life, thank the Lord. I don’t know how much longer he’s gonna let me stay here, but, I’ve had a good time!”