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Brunswick woman defies the odds
Five years ago, Carrie Ada Berrian of Brunswick had a stroke and her doctors said she wouldn't walk again.

After going through physical therapy, she proved them wrong.

In 2010, she had another stroke and her doctors said the same thing. Once again, after physical therapy, she proved them wrong.

This would be remarkable for the average person, but the average person isn't Berrian, who turned 118 years old Monday.

"She used to walk all the time when she was younger," said Robert Gibbons, Berrian's grandson. "That's all she did wherever she had to go."

Gibbons, 64, took in Berrian 11 years ago when he felt it would be unsafe for her to continue to live on her own at the age of 107.

After moving from Louisville, Ga., to Brunswick, she continued her walking regimen. She walked around the neighborhood getting to know the people who lived around her.

"Everyone calls her 'Granny,' even her doctors," Gibbons said.

Walking aside, "Granny" did very little during her life to preserve her health. She smoked and didn't always eat the healthiest of foods. She has high cholesterol and breast cancer.

"Pretty much everything people say you shouldn't do, she did," Gibbons said. Yet, "she's still going."

She doesn't hear very well these days and doesn't say much, but she's still coherent.

Born Carrie Walker, she was the fourth oldest of five children, all of whom she has outlived.

Verifying her age for national recognition has proved difficult. The Gerontology Research Group, which tracks older Americans, has validated 54 supercentenarians - people who have lived longer than 110 years. Berrian is not one of them.

The GRG's list has the oldest person living in America at 113 years old.

Gibbons said they discovered Berrian's age after looking her up on an online site and found a birth certificate with her maiden name.

"I don't have any other documents," Gibbons said. "All I have is her Social Security number and that's what I found."

* Martin Rand is a local news reporter. Contact him at 265-8320, ext. 324.

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