Waldo McBurney

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Ralph Waldo McBurney
Born (1902-10-03)October 3, 1902
Quinter, Kansas
Died July 8, 2009(2009-07-08) (aged 106)
Quinter, Kansas
Other names Waldo McBurney
Occupation beekeeper

Ralph Waldo McBurney (October 3, 1902 – July 8, 2009), usually known as Waldo, was said to be the oldest worker in the United States. Until a relatively short time before his death at age 106, he lived and worked as a beekeeper in the city of Quinter, Kansas. Although he was born in Quinter and had lived in the Quinter area for many years,[1] he had also lived near the Kansas cities of Sterling[2] and Beloit.[3] In his last years, he was recognized nationwide for his longevity.[4]

Personal life[edit]

He was the third of six children born to George R. and Mary B. (Huston) McBurney.[1] After two years at Sterling College, he transferred to the Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University), from which he graduated in 1927. Two years later, he married the former Irene Spear; together, they had three children. After her death in 1960, he married the former Vernice Forman in 1962, twelve years younger than he; [5]Vernice died in 2016 at the age of 102.[6] He suffered a heart attack in 1994,[7] but continued competing afterward. He died at the Gove County Medical Center in Quinter on July 8, 2009.[4][8]

McBurney served as an elder in the Quinter congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America,[9] and his father and his son Kenneth (who survived him) both served as ministers in the same denomination. His father, too, was long-lived, being the oldest minister in the denomination at his death.[1]


He held multiple Masters athletics world records for track and field events for his age level. In 2004, he published an autobiography entitled My First 100 Years. He credited his success partially to his age; as he said in his autobiography, "It is easy to earn gold medals when one has no competition in one's age group!"[10] His continued competition at his age attracted the attention of gerontologists.[11]


In October 2006, McBurney was recognized as the oldest worker in America by Experience Works.[12] As a result, he was featured in newspapers nationwide[13] and on the CBS television program Assignment America.[14] He is also a past recipient of the "Hometown Health Hero" award given by the Governor of Kansas.[15]


  1. ^ a b c McBurney, Charles and Beth. Reformed Presbyterian Ministers 1950-1993. Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant, 1994, pp. 105-106.
  2. ^ McBurney, R. Waldo. My First 100 Years. Leewood: Leathers, 2004, page 4.
  3. ^ Smith, Alvin W. Covenanter Ministers 1930-1963. Pittsburgh: Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1964, page 119.
  4. ^ a b Waldo McBurney dies at 106, KSNW, 2009-07-10. Accessed 2009-07-26.
  5. ^ http://www.hdnews.net/obituaries/vernice-mcburney/article_836fe80a-44d9-548b-b510-fd16cacea371.html
  6. ^ Quinter man keeping active lifestyle, The Hays Daily News, 2007-09-26. Accessed 2007-10-09.
  7. ^ McBurney, R. Waldo. My First 100 Years. Leewood: Leathers, 2004, pages 54-57.
  8. ^ Waldo McBurney, oldest U.S. worker, 106, Associated Press via The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2009-07-13. Accessed 2009-07-15.
  9. ^ Minutes of Synod and Yearbook of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America 2005. Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant, 2006, page 190.
  10. ^ McBurney, R. Waldo. My First 100 Years. Leewood: Leathers, 2004, pages 38-39.
  11. ^ Fackelmann, Kathleen. "The secrets to longevity", USA Today, 2004-02-22. Accessed 2007-08-20.
  12. ^ America's Oldest Worker for 2006 is 104-year-old Waldo McBurney, Experience Works, 2006. Accessed 2007-08-20.
  13. ^ Christoffersen, John. Retirement becoming old-fashioned to some, Evansville Courier-Press, 2007-08-15. Accessed 2007-08-20.
  14. ^ 'America's Oldest Worker' Has A Sweet Life, CBS, 2006-12-08. Accessed 2007-08-20.
  15. ^ Williams cited as a 'Hometown Health Hero', Augusta Gazette, 2007-10-05. Accessed 2007-10-09.