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Tim Hussin, Deseret News
Anna Mangus, 5, visits with Iris Stout Saturday during a 100th birthday celebration for the Provo grandmother at the Riverside Country Club in Provo.

PROVO — Iris Stout grimaced as the doctor scrawled his signature across the bottom of yet another prescription slip.

"I don't want to take all these pills," she said. "I'm not going to live forever, you know."

He just smiled. "Honey, you already have."

That was five years ago. Saturday Stout celebrated her 100th birthday.

"I never thought I would make it to 100," she said. "I'm a little embarrassed, you know, because I'm sort of a curiosity. But I'm grateful."

Stout said she holds a doctor's office record for "longest to survive on a pacemaker." But besides that and a partial hearing loss due to a bout of shingles, the Provo grandmother reported feeling pretty spry.

"None of the neighbors knew her age until three or four years ago," said Stout's youngest daughter, Mary Kay Stout, who manages a consulting business in Los Angeles. "She's always visiting the sick and elderly, making dinner for people. No one had any idea she was so elderly herself."

It wouldn't be hard, though, to mistake Iris Stout for a younger woman.

"I love pretty clothes," she said. "I say if you look your best, you act your best."

Stout sat poised and confident Friday on the edge of her living room couch, perfectly polished fingers folded quietly in her lap. Wearing a trendy sweater set, brown curls expertly arranged, she looked ready to meet the president of the United States.

But Stout's already done that.

As a young woman, Stout, who was born and raised in Centerville, caught a bus to Washington, D.C., where she was elected the first woman president of the Utah State Society. She represented Utah at political functions and snagged several invitations to the White House.

Although she describes herself as "shy and backward," Stout led the life of a socialite. She traveled the world, met the queen of England and fraternized with country-music star and actor Gene Autry.

"I've had my fair share of good luck," she said.

Most who know Stout, however, don't chalk her success up to good luck.

"She is disciplined, she focuses on goals and she makes things happen," said Helen Claire Sievers, Stout's oldest daughter, who is executive director of the nonprofit organization World Teach.

Stout's discipline is illustrated by her work history.

During the Depression, she worked her way from a clerk to an editor for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. She eventually edited the Colorado River report, which laid the foundation for the dam system of the Western United States.

"Work was like therapy for me," Stout said. "It took my mind off of my troubles."

Even at 100 years old, Stout remains disciplined.

She keeps a fairly strict morning schedule: exercise followed by a thorough newspaper reading. Stout, her daughters said, keeps such close tabs on the stock market that she can give the latest quotes at any point throughout the day. She is an avid CNN watcher and reads three hours every night.

She's currently devouring Sen. Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope."

"I'll look up what I can about Senator (John) McCain, too," she said. "I want to be an intelligent voter."

Learning is Stout's greatest love — besides her husband, Clair, who died in 1981. She has a master's degree in English from George Washington University.

"I don't know how we could live if we didn't educate ourselves," Stout said. "Education teaches us how to appreciate and love what we've got."

As for Stout, she's learned to appreciate family. Stout has three daughters, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

When asked to describe her life's accomplishments, Stout answered quickly and humbly.

"I had a wonderful husband who did a lot of good," she said. "I have wonderful children who make me proud."


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