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PASSINGS / Waldo McBurney

Deemed nation's oldest worker

July 13, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Waldo McBurney, 106, who was named America's oldest worker and gained fame in his later years as a competitive runner and beekeeper, died Wednesday at the Gove County Medical Center in his hometown of Quinter, Kan.

In 2006, he was named America's oldest worker by the Washington-based Experience Works, which provides training and employment for senior citizens. At age 104, he was able most days to walk the few blocks from his home to his downtown office in Quinter, a High Plains farming community.

He was born Oct. 3, 1902, and his life spanned an age of horse-drawn buggies to computers. As a child, he got his first paying job at 13 guiding a lead team of horses pulling a wheat thresher. After graduating from Kansas State University in 1927, he worked in various jobs: teacher, county extension agent, tax preparer, manager of a local co-op.

He started a seed-cleaning business in the 1950s and ran it until he was 91.

McBurney then took his decades-old hobby of beekeeping and turned it into a business selling honey, which he sold last year after saying he was slowing down.

He had enjoyed running since childhood and at 65 took up long-distance running. A decade later he began competing in the Senior Olympics, the World Masters and other events.

He stopped competing in 2004 and wrote his autobiography, "My First 100 Years: A Look Back from the Finish Line."

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news.obits@latimes.com

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