104-year-old man who kept fit at Case Center dies in his sleep

Maybe the idea of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the golden years isn’t so much about staving off the inevitable departure as it is about making that eventual journey a smoother ride.

Vernon Sellars, who, at age 104 walked laps around the Case Community Center track on Oct. 14 with a Sand Springs Leader reporter in tow, died in his sleep during the night Nov. 12 at his daughter’s house in Missouri.

Sellars rotated his time among his five children, who are spread out across the country. One daughter, Marie Kasper, lives along the Sand Springs Line, and Sellars was staying with her when the Leader featured him in a story about his physical fitness on the front page of the Oct. 19 issue.

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He left Kasper’s home for his Missouri daughter’s house only 15 days before he died, Kasper said. She said he had a shower Saturday night and went to bed, but on Sunday morning, his daughter found him dead.

“He was clean and ready to go,” Kasper said with a chuckle.

Sellars said last month that he wasn’t trying to live to a certain age but was just living every day he had to the fullest.

“If I had to do it all over again, I don’t know that I would change my habits. I think I live good,” he said. “I don’t think there’d be too much I’d change.”

Sellars was born Jan. 12, 1918, in Selma, North Carolina, at the tail end of World War I.

In his nearly 105 years on earth, he survived two global pandemics: The first was an influenza pandemic that raged while Sellars was just a fragile newborn and ultimately killed 50 million people or more worldwide; the second was the COVID-19 pandemic that raged while Sellars was a vulnerable centenarian.

Raised on a farm, he was a farmer himself for a while, but he went on to work at a number of jobs before he retired from General Electric in Baltimore at age 64½ after making microwave ovens for about a decade.

Sellars said last month that the secrets to a long life are simple: Exercise. Drink water. Go to church. Spend time with family.

“That’s my habit, if you could call it that,” he said. “I don’t know when I was sick the last time.”

A celebration of Sellars’ life will be held Sunday at the Grayson Funeral Home in Clay City, Kentucky, with burial to follow in Stanton, Kentucky, where Sellars will be laid to rest alongside his wife of 59 years, Minnie Alberta (Woodard) Sellars.

Noble “Vernon” Sellars also was preceded in death by his parents, Daniel Crawford and Smithie Ann Sellars; his second wife, Jo Self; and six brothers – Crawford, Andrew, Calvin, Vivian, George and Grover. The youngest died only last year at the age of 94.

He is survived by all five of his and Minnie Sellars’ children — four daughters and one son, all between the ages of 70 and 80. They are Kenneth Sellars of Baltimore; Golda Williamson of Seaford, Delaware; Barbara Dunbar of Drexel, Missouri; Marie Kasper of Sand Springs; and Sue Wilson of Stanton, Kentucky.

He also is survived by 17 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren, eight great-great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.