Wichita WWII veteran celebrating her 102nd birthday
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Today it was a birthday party for one of the few remaining members of the Greatest Generation. Army Veteran Katie Conkling turned 102.
She says her method to living 102 years is pretty simple: do what you enjoy, and if you don't enjoy it, stop doing it.
It's a motto that's provided her with a lot of opportunities during the past century.
"I'm doing great," said says Katie Conkling. "This is a fantastic day."
It’s definitely a day to be celebrated as Conkling is a World War II veteran celebrating her 102nd birthday.
"I told my doctor I says I've already decided I'm going to go to 105,” she laughs. “Oh, he says 'well what's wrong with 10?' I said OK! Let's go to 110."
This accomplished veteran had humble beginnings.
"My family was poor, my father died when I was a year old, I spent the first ten years of my life in the Wichita Children's Home because my mother could not make a living,” Katie explains.
In high school a teacher wanted Katie to stick with art, but Katie says she knew studying business would make her money.
She graduated from East High School in 1939.
It was Pearl Harbor that influenced her decision to enlist in the Women's Army Air Corps.
"Because then we were opened up to take in the other military units so they could also have women serving and that's how it started."
Katie’s daughter Judy Conkling shares, "She was a child of the depression so she was looking for opportunities, and my dad was drafted early on in the war and she probably thought he can serve, I can serve."
Now family, friends, and fellow veterans can look over 102 years of Katie's life experiences and learn from them.
“Katie is one of the few left who can still talk to them and share the memories of the past and these young women can learn from history and Katie is history,” says friend Herb Duncan.
"It's been special for me but it's been fantastic."
Katie still lives on her own with her daughter checking in every now and then, and she only stopped driving when she turned 100.
One of her current concerns is getting herself a cell phone so she can chat with friends.
She says her daughter's working on that.