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100-year-old still meets her friends for weekly game nights

Retha Headrick has quite the social life.

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — At 99.9 years old (her 100th birthday is Monday), Retha Headrick's social life is busier than some 20-year-olds. 

Thursday afternoons are reserved for her weekly game nights, where her neighborhood friends pile around Headrick's kitchen table for Dominos, BINGO and lots of laughter. 

"A lot of times we don't even keep score. We just enjoy bring together," Headrick's friend Andrea McHugh said. "She pays attention though. The rest of us don't. We just gab and have fun, but she pays attention, so she wins a lot." 

On Sundays, it's time for church. Headrick credits her strong faith to her long and happy life. 

"My family and my faith, my God. He's blessed me all these years and has been with me," Headrick said about the secrets to turning 100. 

Many years ago, at South Knoxville Church of God, where she's now the oldest member, She met Albert Headrick. 

"I called him Junior. That was his nickname." 

The two were married in 1939, a few years before she started an unusual job in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 

Credit: WBIR
Retha Headrick sits next to a portrait of herself in her early 30s.

"Of course everybody knows what we were doing now. We didn't then," Headrick said about her role as one of the 'Calutron Girls' during the Manhattan Project of WWII. At the time, she had no idea why she was turning knobs and watching dials. 

"We helped win the war." 

RELATED: Manhattan Project photographer documented Oak Ridge until his death

Life has changed a lot since then. She has four children, 15 grandchildren, and more than 20 great-grandchildren. Her husband, Albert, has since passed away.

"We had a wonderful marriage." 

While the years have passed by, Headrick's demeanor has stayed constant. 

"She's just sweetness personified. She's just precious," McHugh said about her friend. 

With her 100 birthday a few days away, she's not focused on the number on the cake, just on living the life that earned those triple digits. 

Headrick's friends at South Knoxville Church of God are throwing her a birthday party on Mar. 7. She taught as a Sunday School teacher there for more than 50 years before taking a step back from volunteering when she turned 90. 

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