NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — Brookdale Senior Living in New Bern is full of not only personality but also years of knowledge and wisdom. 

Joan Smith was born in 1915. Linda Flynn has known Joan Smith for more than 15 years. She said Joan is an “encyclopedia of history.” She’s lived through everything and is an open book. 

When asked what’s it like being 107, Smith jokingly said, “Old.”

“We actually used to call her the Energizer Bunny because she was always ready to get up and go,” said her longtime friend, Diana Jones. 

(Brookdale Senior Living photo)

Smith has been living in Eastern North Carolina for decades. Her secret to a long life includes good genes, good friends, and “I eat an orange a day. Hanging in. I just don’t think I had a choice.”

Nicole Smith works at Brookdale Senior Living. She said, “I think it’s amazing listening to her stories. If I live to be half her age, it’s a blessing.”

Smith is a former librarian. She has helped other people find stories while also living out her own around the world. 

“We were in Africa … and as we got in the river,” Smith said. “Mr. Hippo rose up out of the water, and he went back, and we went on.”

She also experienced riding in a hot air balloon, saying “That that was kind of a highlight.” 

Jones added, “We cruised together. We traveled together. We’ve had so many adventures together and she’s just been a delight and a joy in my life.”

Joan’s heart is kind. She volunteered her time for many years, including working as a receptionist for a local church until she was 102.

“I did lots of handwork projects for the hospital, and I brought, oh, I started a library in the hospital.,” Smith said. “They had a cart that went around, and when I left, we had a nice room for books.”

Flynn said, “She’s just a generous nice person, you couldn’t ask for a better person.” Smith jokingly said, “I’ll pay you later.”

While those memories seem to stick out, a simple card game might be what’s brought her the most joy.

“I do enjoy Bridge very much,” Smith said. “I’ve always played with my family, played mother and father. So, I have done a lot of Bridge.”

Joan’s longtime friend, Pegge Doyle, said, “I was Joan’s Bridge partner for over 10 years. We won a lot . She’s very competitive, but a great friend.”

When Smith turns 108 in December, all she wants is “Getting fourth for bridge.” One more player is needed for one of her favorite games.

“I don’t care about winning I just want to play.”