Days from 114th birthday, MN woman gets tech savvy

Minnesota's oldest resident is not only excited, she's wired – literally. For that she can thank her new friendship with a Verizon sales rep named Joseph Ramireza.

PLAINVIEW, Minn. – When Anna Stoehr recently created her Facebook page, she did what many youngsters have done to bypass age requirements.

Anna lied about her date of birth.

She said she was 99-years-old, after her actual age bounced back as invalid.

Such is the burden on woman about to celebrate her 114th birthday.

"You betcha," laughs Anna, giddy as an early 20th century school girl.

Minnesota's oldest resident is not only excited, she's wired – literally. For that she can thank her new friendship with a Verizon sales rep named Joseph Ramireza.

"So what are we doing today Anna?" asks Joseph as they meet for breakfast at Anna's retirement community. "She's become something of a kindred spirit," he says.

Anna was born before her family's home even had a phone - or electric lights or a car. But in a few minutes, she'll be FaceTiming with her friends on her brand new iPad.

The relationship between Joseph and Anna began back in August, when Anna's son Harlan Stoehr purchased his first smart phone from Joseph, an employee at St. Francis Wireless Zone.

"I just sold him the iPhone and he was talking about his mother and I realized Harlan was 85-years-young and I was just astounded," recalled Joseph.

The obvious next question followed. "How old is your mother?"

Told Anna was approaching her 114th birthday, Joseph had to meet her – and a friendship was born.

During half a dozen drives from the Twin Cities to Plainview, Joseph has been teaching Anna how to e-mail and Google.

On one visit Joseph typed "Susan B. Anthony" into the search engine. He laughs when he remembers Anna's response. "It started talking about Susan B. Anthony and she said to me, 'I could have told you that.'"

When Facebook failed to recognize Anna's birth date as valid, Joseph helped her write a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on an old typewriter.

"I'm still here," Anna dictated.

Anna proved long ago she is here for the long haul. She lived alone in her farmhouse near Potsdam until she was 112.

An organization that tracks supercentenarians lists her as the 7th oldest person in American, just two years younger than the oldest – a 116-year-old woman living in Arkansas.

Anna's new found interest in technology comes as no surprise to her son. "That's an aspect of my mom, she's been curious about everything all her life and continues to be curious," says Harlan.

Anna's friends and family will help her celebrate her 114th birthday with a party this Sunday at Green Prairie Place, Anna's senior community in Plainview.


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