Orem resident turns 105, has some advice for young people

Georgia Presnell blows out the candles as she celebrates her 105th birthday with family and friends at Treeo, a senior living center, in Orem on Friday.

Georgia Presnell blows out the candles as she celebrates her 105th birthday with family and friends at Treeo, a senior living center, in Orem on Friday. (Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)


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OREM — Georgia Burt Presnell took to the dance floor on Friday, wearing a bedazzled pink dress, nylons and blue eyeshadow. Senior living facility staff say she dresses to the nines every day, but this day was different — it was her 105th birthday.

"I don't feel 105, but I look it," she joked, addressing a crowd of family and friends who were there to celebrate her at Treeo senior living facility in Orem.

Presnell was born June 7, 1919. She's lived through the Great Depression, four wars, 19 presidents and one pandemic. She's older than Mickey Mouse, the internet and the ballpoint pen.

And turns out, she's the same age as the city of Orem, Mayor David Young said. She'll be honored in the Orem city parade on Saturday.

"As a little kid, I never dreamed I'd be here at 105," she said.

Presnell spent her younger years in the Salt Lake City and Ogden areas. She met her husband, Francis "Frank" Foster Presnell, in high school — when he walked into the library one day, she told herself, "He's mine!"

Frank Presnell got a job in Portland, Oregon, after high school graduation. A few months later, Presnell asked her parents to drive her to Oregon so she and Frank Presnell could get married on November 14, 1939. They were married for 61 years.

Presnell has missed him in the 24 years he's been gone but says their two sons, Burt and Greg, are "just like him."

Things weren't always easy for the Presnells — their first son Burt was born on December 4, 1944, which was the same day Frank Presnell was shipped out of New York City to fight in World War II's European Theater.

But overall, Presnell says she's had "a beautiful life." She's managed to stay busy for an entire century.

"I worked two or three jobs whenever the opportunity presented itself," she said. "I was always in business."

Presnell juggled jobs in real estate, insurance and banking, and she also gave a lot of time to committees, boards and charities. At one point, she was the vice president of Tahoe Pacific Escrow Company. She ended her career at 94 as assistant to the president of a bank.

"She was one that would never say 'no,'" Burt Presnell said. "And she would never take 'no' for an answer."

Georgia Presnell, joined by her sons Burt Presnell, left, and Greg Presnell, smiles after blowing out the candles as she celebrates her 105th birthday with family and friends at Treeo, a senior living center, in Orem on Friday.
Georgia Presnell, joined by her sons Burt Presnell, left, and Greg Presnell, smiles after blowing out the candles as she celebrates her 105th birthday with family and friends at Treeo, a senior living center, in Orem on Friday. (Photo: Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

In 1982, Presnell was awarded Sacramento's Volunteer of the Year award. Three years later, she was recognized in Washington, D.C., as California's Outstanding Older Worker.

"She's seen it all and embraced it all and carried on," Presnell's son Greg Presnell said.

Presnell's life story is all the more interesting for her telling it. At 105, she has a sharp memory — she can recall names, exact dates and addresses as she recounts events.

"I read a lot," she said. "I've read everything." Her most recent read was a Tom Clancy novel, but she also likes autobiographies, romance and adventure stories.

It seems like she's done it all, but there's one thing she hasn't tried.

"I've never had a pair of jeans," she said. She's not ruling them out, though — she's thinking about getting a pair.

She has some advice for younger people: set goals and keep them. "And don't set a goal that's beyond your own abilities," she said.

Looking back, she's grateful for her faith, her parents, and her husband and sons. She also has two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

"I've enjoyed every day that I've had, and I look forward to more."

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Emma Everett Johnson covers Utah as a general news reporter. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University.

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