News-Democrat & Leader (Russellville, KY)
Feb. 06--It goes without saying that Robert "Howard" Danks has seen a lot of change during his lifetime.
After all, he will be turning 102 next week when he celebrates his birthday on February 12.
Danks is always happy to let anyone know just when he was born. "My birthday is 2-12-12," he'll tell you with a big grin.
When asked about thinking back through the 102 years he has been on Earth, Danks has a simple, yet poignant, outlook.
"It's been a wonderful life," he said.
Despite his advanced age, Danks says he doesn't have any of the aches and pains that many folks much younger than him have to deal with.
"I really don't feel my age," Danks said. "I feel good to be almost 102 years old."
He is not even on any medication for any health problems. The only pills he takes are vitamins and minerals.
His secret for achieving such great health at almost 102? Clean living and not biting off more than he can chew.
"And I have slowed down some over the years," he said.
But just because he has slowed down, doesn't mean he has stopped all together.
Danks has spent most of his life on his farm in the north Logan County community of Beechland.
He bought his 379-acre farm in 1946 and has been growing soybeans on the land every year since 1948.
During this fall harvest a couple of years ago, he spent nearly the entire day out in the fields at age 99 watching the workers on the combines. It was well past dark before he made it back home and settled in for the night. All told, he spent almost nine hours in the field that day.
And he still loves to get out and go. One of his favorite things to do is to head over to the Bethel Dipper in Russellville for a chocolate soft serve and watch the children as they go back and forth to the window to pick up their own ice cream treats.
"I'm a goer -- I like to go," he said.
Before buying his farm, Danks spent 13 years working in a tire factory in Dayton, Ohio. He did that after graduating from Lewisburg High School. Because he grew up about 10-12 miles from the school -- and there were no cars in those days -- he went to high school while boarding with his aunt and uncle, who lived in town.
His parents, James Robert Danks (who everyone knew as "Bob") and Pearl Jane Whitson Banks, had eight children -- of which he was the oldest boy.
In 1940, he married Fanny Porter and soon afterwards had three children -- Brenda Miles, who lives in Russellville and Roberta Johnson and Mike Danks, who both live in Bowling Green now.
In 1958 he built a brand new brick farmhouse to replace the old one that still stands today. That house was the first in the community that had full electricity.
He served 13 years as a Logan County magistrate from 1958 to 1971. He is also a Mason and was one of the founding members of the Coon Range Fish and Game Club in Lewisburg. He also spent many years as the director of Sunday school for Beechland Baptist Church.
When Danks turned 100 a couple years back, his children had a huge party for him and about 250 people showed up. He loved it and remembered everyone that came up and wished him a happy birthday.
The family is happy to be planning another birthday party for next week, but this one will be considerable smaller.
As for Mr. Danks, he is already looking forward to his 103rd birthday. And he doesn't have any intention of stopping at that one either.
(c)2014 the News-Democrat & Leader (Russellville, Ky.)
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