Days before the Titanic sank in April 1912, Iris Bain stood on the pier with her father and watched the ship sail from Southampton, England.
At 86, she carried the Olympic torch through the streets of Wichita for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
Four years ago at 96, Bain led the exercise class at Sedgwick Plaza, a retirement community where she lives.
Thursday, she was at Wichita State University attending a political science class, "Great Decisions 2010," through the school's continuing education program.
"You have to exercise your brain the same as you do your body," Bain said.
Oh, and after Thursday's session, classmates held a reception in honor of Bain turning 100 on Saturday.
"She has a great mind," said Jim McKenney, the class instructor and a retired WSU professor. "For 100 years, I can't believe it."
Bain has been taking noncredit, continuing ed classes at WSU almost every year since 1977. Subjects have ranged from religion to terrorism.
"Whatever piques my interest," Bain said.
Joy Harrison-Olson, a close friend who was at Thursday's class to be part of the reception, said, "She'd be dead if she didn't do these classes. She wants to think."
Bain's current class deals with such heavy lifting as the global financial crisis, peace building and conflict resolutions and U.S.-China security relations.
Thursday, guest speaker Mike Smith, president of WeatherData, gave a presentation on global warming.
Bain is a little hard of hearing, so she sits one row back from the front. But you can't count on her being there.
"She stays busy, on all kinds of committees at Sedgwick Plaza," Harrison-Olson said.
Bain used to read to the blind and spent 20 years as a volunteer counselor for Episcopal Social Services.
To prepare for carrying the 4-pound Olympic torch, she tied a weight on a baseball bat and practiced for several months holding it over her head while "trotting."
"I didn't want to drop it, you know," she said.
Bain has outlived two husbands and one of her two sons.
She has lived through much of the history she now studies in WSU classes.
"But I really don't remember seeing the Titanic," she corrected. "I was only 2."
Born in the London suburb of Teddington, she came to the United States with her family as a 6-year-old in 1916.
Her father had landed a job as a golf pro in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest.
With World War I raging in Europe and America not yet in the war, Bain said, "My father thought, 'Well, this is a good opportunity to get my family out of the danger zone.' "
When the Great Depression hit, the golf club shut down and her father lost his job.
He went back to England to go into business with his brothers. He planned to send for his family, but he died only months after returning to England.
After graduating from Lake Forest College, Bain worked for more than 30 years in the credit and collection department for a building material supplier in Chicago.
When she and her husband, Adrian Bain, retired in 1975, they moved to Wichita. Adrian, who died in 1985, had family here.
Bain immediately poured herself into volunteer work, but she also took time to enjoy the opera whenever possible.
"I was taught to make my own decisions, stand on my own two feet and accept the responsibility for my actions," she said. "That's the best advice I ever got from my father."
That included taking charge of the exercise class for about a year at Sedgwick Plaza.
"I got irritated because they didn't have a good teacher," Bain said. "They only wanted to go 15 minutes. I made them go for 30 minutes.
"They won't let you go too long with those old people, you know. They get muddled."
Active in church, she has a quick answer to those who ask if she has long-term care insurance.
"It's the Lord," she said. "He takes care of me."
But during a visit for an eye exam a few days ago, she also had a quick response when the doctor said he wanted to see her in two years.
"Two years? I won't be around in two years," she said.
"How about six months?" the doctor replied.
"I'll try to make it," Bain said.
With the exception of a grandson who is in Iraq with the Air Force Reserve, her family will come to Wichita for the 100th birthday party.
"So many people live to be 100 years old these days," Bain said. "I don't know what the big deal is."
Maybe it's because there are not that many centenarians still cracking the books.