SEDGWICK — When an entire city, the governor and a U.S. senator send you well wishes on your birthday, you know it's a momentous occasion.
Such was the case for Elmer Christiansan, who celebrated his 106th birthday at the Sedgwick Senior Center on Saturday. As one of the oldest living Kansans, proclaimed to be the oldest man in Kansas during the festivities, it was kind of a big deal — with Sedgwick Mayor Bryan Chapman, state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, and more making special proclamations in tribute to the man of the hour.
"As you celebrate this special occasion, you have my best wishes for a memorable day and a future full of good health and happiness," read a statement from Gov. Laura Kelly.
"You represent the best of the Sunflower State," said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in a statement.
"We wish this outstanding Kansan, a product of the heartland, a very happy birthday," said McGinn, who presented Christiansan with a framed proclamation on behalf of the Kansas Senate.
For Christiansan, even in turning 106 years old, he treated the day like any other. He got up for breakfast, then took a little rest before coming out to enjoy good food and company — cracking jokes and illustrating his sharp wit throughout his birthday bash.
That's part of what keeps him going, Christiansan admitted, as he never makes a big deal about his age. Asked about his hobbies, he said they were akin to those of anybody else; he likes to get out and exercise and talk with friends and family. It was even stated multiple times during the celebration that Christiansan still mows his own yard at his home in Sedgwick.
"I get around as long as I don't sit down and give up," Christiansan said.
Born on Aug. 10, 1913, in St. Joseph, Mo., Christiansan has been around for the tenures of 19 U.S. presidents.
Christiansan moved to Sedgwick in 1942 and has now lived in the Harvey County community for three-quarters of his life. He worked at the alfalfa mill in town for 35 years, then the local co-op, before retirement, all while raising four children with his wife.
Full as his life has been while reflecting back on the previous 105 years, Christiansan noted there hasn't been any grand scheme he's lived by. Rather, he said, he's gotten to 106 years in a fairly straightforward manner.
"Really, I don't have a secret," Christiansan said. "I just take it one day at a time."