The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 17, 2013

Somerset woman, 111, among world’s longest-lived people

Frank Sojak

SOMERSET — Alda Collins, a resident of The Patriot, a personal-care home in Somerset, really knows how to live.

Collins, who turned 111 years young July 26, now is the 50th oldest verified person in the world, 17th in the United States and second in Pennsylvania, according to the Gerontology Research Group, known as the world’s authority on validating supercentenarians.

A supercentenarian is a person 110 years of age or older.

Born in 1902 in Somerset County, Collins has voted in every election since 1919 – the past 20 years by absentee ballot – and has lived through 19 presidents, said her son, Jim Collins of Somerset.

She lived alone until she was 102, he said.

President Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House when she was born. Her favorite president was Ronald Reagan, her son said.

Alda Collins taught in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Somerset County, her son said.

Her late husband, William, was a veteran of World War I. William, who died in 1976, had owned and operated a barbershop in Somerset for 40 years, his son said.

He also had a shoeshine chair at his shop, where a shoeshine cost 25 cents.

“If anyone had great parents, I did,” Jim Collins said.

His mother is the oldest of nine children, he said. Only a sister, Virginia Hoover, 95, of the Somerset area, is living.

Alda Collins had one other son, William, who is deceased.

She has 10 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at