Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Oldest Manitoban dies at 111

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Lorna Best never missed a Blue Jays game on TV. Or the Brier, for that matter. She loved curling.

She sent out Christmas cards every year, paid her bills, and "kept in touch with a million people," said her son, Warren.

But on Friday, the oldest living person born in Manitoba passed away 111 years and 28 days after being born in Gilbert Plains on July 4, 1903.

"She did pretty good," Warren, 78, said. "She didn't get into the hospital hardly at all. She hated the hospital."

Best suffered a stroke in June. On July 4, her 111th birthday, she was admitted into a nursing home in Victoria, where she has lived since 1981.

Back in February, Best -- then 110 years, 212 days old -- became the oldest person born in Manitoba when she surpassed Mary Ann Scoles on the longevity list. Scoles died on July 23, 2007 at the age of 110 years and 210 days.

At the time, the grandmother of six, great-grandmother of 11 and great-great grandmother of two -- apart from her own two surviving children -- was unimpressed by her longevity.

"It's nothing special," she told a Free Press reporter over the phone. "It's just another day."

Best was born in the family home in Gilbert Plains, the first of five children of Charles and Edra Warren, who had emigrated from England to pioneer a farm near Dauphin. She was married to husband, Gilbert, in 1928. Gilbert died at age 66 and is buried in Gilbert Plains. Best eventually moved to Victoria to be closer to her two children -- Warren (Merritt, B.C.) and Shirley Evans, who now resides in Black Diamond, Alta.

Warren said his mother was reluctant to celebrate a birthday, much less discuss her longevity.

"She wasn't one that was looking for a lot of notoriety," he said. "She never really talked about her age."

But Lorna Best wasn't without stories. One of her siblings, a boy, died of the Spanish flu in 1919.

In her later years, Best was a diehard Blue Jays fan who rarely missed a televised game. In fact, the major league team sent her a hat and baseball three years ago after being notified of her fandom. Being born in Manitoba, Best never shook the curling bug, either. She was a particular fan of Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton. "She lived for curling on TV," Warren said.

There are no plans at present for a funeral, the son noted. But Warren said his mother's remains will be buried in a plot in the Gilbert Plains cemetery next to her family and husband.

"The remains will get back to Manitoba some day," he said.

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

-- with files from Kevin Rollason

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 2, 2014 A2

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