Supercentenarian marks 110 years with an unbroken funny bone

Irvine resident Sally Mitchell celebrates her 110th birthday.
(Susan Hoffman / Daily Pilot)

Sally Mitchell is a supercentenarian. Her superpowers include the ability to remember when the modern zipper was introduced, when the Titanic sank and when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped. The 110-year-old Irvine resident’s eyes are sharp, as is her sense of humor.

When she was recently honored with a city proclamation and a tribute by Irvine City Councilwoman Beth Krom, Mitchell said: “I don’t have anything to give you.”

Mitchell was born in 1904, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began work on the Panama Canal, the ice cream cone was invented and the New York City subway opened.


This year she joins the ranks of the supercentenarians, those who have reached the age of 110. Daughter Suzanne Becker says Mitchell owes her longevity to the ability to keep stress in check, regular exercise and, of course, good genes. Most of her siblings lived into their 90s, and her baby sister, 94-year-old Maxine Baker, attended Mitchell’s birthday party this week.

Mitchell, one of six children, grew up on a farm in Pentwater, Mich., and moved to California when she was in her 20s. She and her husband, Howard Mitchell, met while they were both working at AT&T, and she became a full-time homemaker after they were married.

The couple settled in San Marino and would eventually move to Newport Beach, where they lived for more than 40 years.

When Howard Mitchell died after 60 years of marriage, Sally moved in with her daughter in Irvine and then relocated to a Turtle Rock assisted living home. In addition to her daughter, she has three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Becker said that her mother’s eyesight is better than her own, “and the only problem is a loss of hearing from one ear.” With her sense of humor intact, even her hearing loss has contributed to funny moments.

Becker told of the time she was explaining the elastic straps on her shoes when her mom said, “What? They were made in Alaska?” Another time Becker was telling her about their gracious hosts on a visit to a small village in Hungary who delivered a tray of aperitifs before serving lunch, and Mitchell said, “What? They brought you a pair of teeth?”


According to Robert Young, senior database administrator for the Gerontology Research Group, “Reaching age 110 is, in longevity terms, like making the major leagues.” The group’s records indicate that Mitchell may be the oldest person in Orange County.

Susan Hoffman writes for Times Community News.