Happy 105th Birthday, Edythe!


Edythe Kirchmaier's 105th Birthday Celebration. Direct Relief International. Goleta, California. January 22, 2013. Photo: ©IsaacHernandez.com
Edythe Kirchmaier's 105th Birthday Celebration. Direct Relief International. Goleta, California. January 22, 2013. Photo: ©IsaacHernandez.com


This morning, Direct Relief celebrated one of its longest-serving volunteers, Edythe Kirchmaier, who turned a remarkable 105 years young. Even today, Edythe continues to volunteer at Direct Relief as she has been for the past 40 years, committed to the mission of improving the health and lives of those in need around the world.

Edythe’s wish for her birthday is to inspire the world to make a difference, as she has, by raising awareness for the organization to which she has dedicated much of her life. To celebrate Edythe’s milestone birthday and honor her wish, Direct Relief created the world’s largest virtual birthday cake  to help reach her goal of having 105,000 people “liking” Direct Relief by lighting a Facebook candle for her 105th birthday.

To light a candle on Edythe’s birthday cake, please click this link Edythe’s Birthday Challenge, and then share this page on your own Facebook page using the mobile-friendly URL: http://on.fb.me/T6lcEa.

Other ways to stay involved:

  • Join the conversation on Twitter via #lightacandle
  • Tell your friends to “like” Direct Relief on Facebook and help celebrate!
  • Be on the lookout for Edythe’s segment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show airing Thursday afternoon
  • “Friend” Edythe on her personal Facebook page

Want to know more about Edythe’s life?

  • Edythe was born in Ohio in 1908. At Springfield High School, she was an active member of the YWCA girls club and the Glee Club.
  • Edythe is the University of Chicago’s oldest living former student. She went to Ohio State and then University of Chicago to study social work, at a time when social work was just beginning as a career. Many of her professors were key founders of social work in America today.
  • She met her late husband, Joe, while working as a supervisor at the Illinois Emergency Relief Agency.
  • Joe and Edythe drove across the country in the 1930’s when they moved to California. They bought a house in Santa Barbara in 1948, where Edythe still lives independently today.
  • The couple began volunteering at Direct Relief in the 1970’s in response to a newspaper ad seeking volunteers. They served 36 months volunteering internationally, and continued volunteering in the Santa Barbara offices upon their return.
  • During her time at Direct Relief, Edythe has been involved with relief to dozens of historic emergency response efforts, including earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, floods in Pakistan, famine in Somalia, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy.
  • Edythe is the oldest registered Facebook user in the world! Facebook confirmed this, as they had to do extensive recoding to be able to enter her correct birthdate.
  • About a month ago, Edythe was saved from a falling tree branch by a neighbor.
  • Edythe still volunteers at Direct Relief every Tuesday morning,  even today, her 105th birthday, she worked before her celebration.
  • Edythe takes her driver’s test tomorrow. She has never been in an accident, never gotten a ticket and never received a parking citation.

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