Nenana man celebrates his 105th birthday

Although he's blind, barely mobile, Albert actually doing well

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2009

FAIRBANKS - A Nenana man celebrated his 105th birthday.

Benny Albert was surrounded Wednesday by family and friends for his party.

Albert's caregiver, his great-great-great nephew Alex Ketzler, said Albert was so excited he didn't sleep all night. He ate birthday cake, shared a large pot of moose soup and especially enjoyed gifts of gum, cookies and candy.

Albert is blind, uses a hearing aid and is barely mobile, but Ketzler said he's actually doing really well for someone his age. His mind is still keen, he said.

"He's really with it. He always wants to know what is going on in the world," Ketzler said.

To keep his interests up, Ketzler presented his uncle with an LCD television, mainly to listen to.

"When he is in a good mood and really perky, he's pretty interesting, telling stories about the good old days."

Albert was born in the Bear Paw area near the confluence of the Kantishna and Bear Paw rivers. He was orphaned at a young age and raised by a man called "Old Albert" who lived off the land.

Albert in turn became proficient with subsistence survival skills and shared them with others throughout his life.

At different times, Albert lived in Nenana and Minto, working as a maintenance crew member and laying tracks for the Alaska Railroad and working on the Lake Minchumina airstrip.

He was a commercial salmon fisherman for a time in King Salmon and remembers selling netted salmon for a penny a piece.

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