By Jennifer Stagg
SALT LAKE CITY — Most of us have to read about what happened 100 years ago in a history book, but one Utah man has lived it.
Eldred Smith, a Salt Lake City man who celebrated his 106th birthday Wednesday, has a title no one else in the state has: He is oldest man in Utah.
In 1907, doctors performed the first successful blood transfusion and a bouncing baby boy named Eldred G. Smith entered the world. Fast forward more than a century, and Eldred is as sharp as ever — though he does get tired a little faster than he used to.
“What’s your secret to a long life?” I asked him, watching his eyes slowly open.
“Getting sleep, apparently,” Eldred said with a laugh.
This great-great-grandfather has lived a lot of life &38212; in years, and experience. During World War II, he worked as an engineer for a company that enriched uranium for the atomic bomb.
He is also the oldest and longest-serving general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And his own great-great-grandfather is Hyrum Smith, brother to the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith.
Eldred he spent years travelling, displaying church artifacts. KSL caught up with him when he was a spry 100-years-old.
“I tell ’em exercise is a waste of energy,” Eldred said during our 2007 interview. “I use my energy to accomplish something that gives me all the energy I need.”
He has outlived two spouses — his second sweetheart passed away in May 2012, at age 95. But he is still surrounded by his loving children and grandchildren down the line.
“He’s always talked about being around ‘till 110,” said daughter Miriam Skeen. “(He’s) one year closer.”
Eldred celebrated his birthday Wednesday surrounded by family and friends. Among his birthday visitors was LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, who told Eldred’s family the biggest key to longevity is to just keep breathing.
Jennifer Stagg, Reporter