Winona James said a life without alcohol and nicotine is the only way to make it to age 101.
"I never smoked, not a bit, and the only thing I drink is water on the rocks," James said at her 101st birthday party held Saturday at the Stewart Center.
"Old ladies raise hell," she said as she was wheeled in by her entourage of family and friends. James wore her hair in two tightly braided buns and donned her new birthday present, turquoise jewelry.
James, born in the sagebrush behind the Genoa courthouse, has lived in Nevada her whole life. She has survived two marriages, started a stable company with her second husband, raised her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild, outlived all three of her children and drove until her early 80s.
"It was no problem raising my great-grandaughter or my two daughters and one son, she said. "I am crabby and mean"
James is the elder of the Washoe tribe and was given a full ceremony for her birthday including, songs and prayers in the Washoe language.
They also performed the traditional circle dance, while her grandson, Edwin Schenk, pushed her wheelchair at the head of the circle. When the song was over she sat in the chair and shook hands each of the about 50 people in attendance.
But James talked through almost the entire ceremony, introducing her grandchildren to old friends.
James was 80 years old when she began to raise her great-granddaughter Keta Magers. Magers, 21, said James drove her to swim lessons when she was five years old.
"When she couldn't drive alone, she would get someone to drive her to all of my events, Magers said. "She is a wonderful parent. She is disciplined and has a lot of old-school rules, like we always have to close the curtains so people don't peer in."
James still has a valid drivers license and the car sits in her drive way. Many of her grandchildren said they believe that James might someday sneak out and drive the car.
"The only reason she doesn't drive is because we have threatened to slash her tires," Magers said.
"She is very independent," Magers said of her great grandmother who still lives in her own home under 24-hour care. "She is funny and a smart-aleck."
Schenk, James' 53-year-old grandson, still calls his grandmother everyday.
"She is very demanding, very smart and wise and she has a better memory than me," Schenk said. " She is healthy and has seen so much, the beginning of cars, the space age, man on the moon, the only thing she doesn't know about is computers."
Cindy Davis, 52, another grandchild of James, said she is not too sure she would like to live 100 years.
"Never drink and never smoke and you will live to be 100," Davis said. "Man I hope I don't ever get her genes."
Roslain Carvin, born in Dresslerville, has also lived in Nevada her whole life and said James has always been a staple in the community.
"Ever since I was a girl I have known Winona, almost everyone did," Carvin said. " She has a lot of sage advice for the young people. "She is very strong and personable, so neat to know."
Carvin also marveled at James' excellent health.
"She is in very good health," she said. "She is slow; but, hey, who isn't at 100? Who is even gonna live to be 100?"