Blytheville’s oldest living woman shares advice for long life at 106

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. — If you ask Blytheville resident Annie Bell Barnes what her secret to long life is, she'll tell you it's no secret at all.

"Try and do the right thing," she said.

Barnes, who turned 106 on Saturday, is one of Arkansas' oldest living women. Blytheville's mayor proclaimed her birthday as "Annie B. Barnes Day."

She still keeps busy — spending time with family is her favorite pasttime, but working puzzles might be a close second.

She was born in Augusta, Arkansas in 1912 to Alfred and Sara Sawyer, who were sharecroppers.

To put it in perspective, 1912 was the year the Titanic sank and if you can believe it, it was also the year Oreo cookies were introduced.

She married her husband Walter Barnes in the 1930s, and they moved to Blytheville in 1952.

"She never said anything bad about anyone. Never complained," said daughter Ruth Mathis.

She was one of Barnes' 15 children, 10 of whom are still living.

"My mother was a wonderful mother. She never have raised her voice with any of us."

Her generosity extended beyond family, when she and her husband took in a neighborhood boy who lost his parents.

"Mom and dad sure took care of him until he got to be grown."

Barnes has more than 150 grandkids, and more than 100 great-grandkids.

She has a lot of wisdom, and some advice for everyone:

"Treat people like you want to be treated," she said.

Note: Since this story aired, WREG has learned of at least one living woman in Arkansas who is older. Irma Boyer of Fayetteville is now 108.