Having reached one major milestone, Fred Carnes has set his sights on another.
The Ada resident, who celebrated his 100th birthday in late January, has decided that he wants to live to be 112.
“I asked him before (why he wanted to reach that age), and he said he didn’t know,” said Carnes’ stepdaughter, Glenda Cross. “He just picked it.”
Carnes was born Jan. 24, 1918, in a shed in Lehigh to Katy and Walter Carnes. He was the second youngest of six children.
Carnes was only 4 years old when his father died of liver cancer, and he was raised by his mother and older siblings. He grew up in Granite in eastern Greer County.
When he was 16, he left school and took a kitchen job on the Fort Sill military base so he could help support his family. Five years later, he returned to high school and earned his diploma.
Carnes married his first wife, Estelle, when he was 24. He then joined the U.S. Army and was later transferred to the U.S. Air Force in hopes of becoming a pilot, but he never received pilot training because the military needed ground troops instead.
Carnes transferred back to the Army, where he worked as a mess sergeant for nearly four years. He was stationed in Europe during World War II and was still in the Army when the war ended.
He said he was glad the war was over so he could return home, but he was proud of his military service.
“I’d go back again if I needed to,” he said. “That was fine with me.”
After the war ended and Carnes returned to Oklahoma, he lived in Lawton and sold bread for the Bond Co. He held that job for more than 30 years, retiring at age 62 in 1980.
Carnes and Estelle were married for nearly 40 years before she passed away. They had two children — a son named Fred Jr. who died in 2015, and a daughter named Mary, who lives in St. Louis.
After leaving Lawton, Carnes lived in Elk City and Canute. He married Willie Mae Lowder in 2001 and moved from his home in Canute to Ada so his wife could be close to her children and grandchildren. Mrs. Carnes died in 2012.
Carnes took good care of his wife during their nearly 11-year marriage, Cross said.
“He made her very happy,” Cross said.
At 100, Carnes is in fairly good health. He remains active, continues to cook and take care of his house and attends church regularly.
Carnes can still drive and — until a recent illness — would drive out to Wal-Mart at about 6 a.m. each day and take a two-mile walk around the store.
Many Wal-Mart employees recognize Carnes because he always wears striped overalls when he takes his daily walk, Cross said.
“They know him by that because they walk with him out there,” she said. “One year, some of the people in Wal-Mart got him a cake. So some of the people at Wal-Mart celebrated his birthday with him.”
This year, nearly 100 people joined Carnes for his 100th-birthday party in late January.
Carnes said the secret to his longevity stems from a simple fact: He still gets out of bed each morning and follows his normal routine, which includes going to his stepdaughter’s house to drink coffee and play dominoes with his family.