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Morning walks keep Benny Todd young

Always trying to get out of the last lap or two, 90-year-old Benny Todd walks nearly three miles every weekday morning at First Baptist Church in Groves with a group of 14.

“Last week Audie told him he doesn’t walk long enough” walker Patsy Williams said laughing.

“My wife tells me to,” he said when asked why he walks.

Todd has been walking for 25 years, on the streets before their walking group got together.

“I think its great that he walks,” his wife Audie Todd said.

She walks with him and the rest of the group. They have been married for 66 years.

When Todd was 87, he needed back surgery. The doctor told him he wouldn’t operate because of his age. After the Dr. saw him, he said “Oh, you’re a young 87.” The doctor ended up operating on him because he was in such good physical health from walking all these years.

“He is an inspiration coming down here,” walker Nancy Seegers said.

After walking, they all sit at a round table to drink coffee, talk about politics, receipts, food, world situations, to tell jokes and pick on each other.

“We send cards to those that are sick. We form a support group. If they miss, we call and make sure everything is O.K.,” Seegers explained.

“I feel guilty if I miss because they never miss” walker Marilyn Proenza said. She is the youngest of the group, 58-years-old.

Other members of the walking group are Jack and Jackie Allen, A.J. and Rena Bourque, Margaret Hardin, Gladys Foret, Shirley Funderburk, Charles Brevell, and Elsie Richter.

Today, August 13, is Todd’s 90th birthday. “I’m just a spring chicken,” Jack Allen said joking with Todd. Allen is only 89-years-old.

“Whoever has a birthday, their the one that has to bring a treat for the rest of the group instead of the other way around,” Seegers said.

Todd had family in town all day Saturday to celebrate his birthday.

Benny was born in Summerall, Mississippi and grew up on a small farm milking cows and plowing. They had a big garden.

“We grew up in the depression so we had to be tough. We didn’t throw anything away. Everyone was poor. We didn’t feel self-conscious about it because everyone was poor,” Todd explained.

He moved to Texas in the 1940’s and joined the Army. He has been to North Africa and Italy with the Army.

“As little as I could,” he said laughing, when asked what he did in the Army. “I was part of the Air Corps.”

The men he was in the Army with have had reunions since 1970. There were only two of them last time they met. “Ain’t much of a reunion with two people,” he said laughing. It’s mostly the families of the servicemen that attend the reunions now. Many are not physically able to make it.

Todd retired in 1984 after 39 years of service from BF Goodrich Rubber Plant.

He has three children, seven grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.

Todd enjoys reading, gardening and working in his yard. He grows beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and bluebonnets. Todd also visits people in the hospital.

Benny has been a deacon at First Baptist Church since 1956 and used to teach Sunday School. Now, his Sunday School class consists of about 12 men, all over 80-years-old.

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