The world’s oldest competitive powerlifter (female), Edith Murway-Traina (USA, b. 8 August 1921), has sadly passed away at the age of 101.
“She was an inspiration to all who knew her,” said Edith’s daughter, Honey Cottrell.
Edith lived life by her motto: ‘Active, Alert & Agile’. Thus, it was no surprise to her family when she began lifting weights in her nineties.
After being introduced to weightlifting by a friend from her dance class, Carmen Gutworth, Edith found she had a natural talent for it.
But Edith wasn’t simply satisfied with pumping iron at her local gym – she wanted to compete.
“Going on a regular basis, I found that I was enjoying it, and I was challenging myself to get a little bit better and a little bit better. Before long, I was part of the team,” she said when we spoke to her in 2021.
Under the instruction of her trainer Bill Beekley, Edith proceeded to make a name for herself on the senior powerlifting scene in Florida.
Edith won numerous awards, accolades, and trophies in the deadlift and bench press categories, consistently winning first place in her age group at every event.
“She bent down and picked it up as if it were her purse,” said Carmen, describing one of Edith’s lifts. “She will not quit; and anything that’s hard, it makes her more determined.”
In 2021, just days before her 100th birthday, she was officially recognized as the world’s oldest competitive powerlifter (female).
However, perhaps even more impressive than Edith’s physical strength was her mental strength.
Raising five children poses a challenge for any mother, but Edith also endured the hardship of caring for her polio-stricken, quadriplegic husband Edward, who subsequently passed away.
As a single mother, life was tough, but Edith never shied away from her responsibilities. She juggled three jobs, housework, laundromat trips, caring for an infant, and driving her older sons to band practise – all with a smile on her face.
Edith said she managed it by “just getting up every morning and doing what I had to do.”
Edith was also an enthusiastic volunteer fundraiser for the March of Dimes, as the nonprofit organization had generously helped her young family.
Edith was in her fifties when she met her second husband, John Traina, at a dance club. The couple retired to Tampa, Florida, where they continued to enjoy an active lifestyle.
Edith loved dancing, and in the late 1980s, she spearheaded the Senior Stars programme at her local recreation centre. One of their first acts was to form the Happy Hoofers dance troupe, which Edith choregraphed routines and designed costumes for.
Her stage shows were must-see events and helped generate funds for the Senior Stars programme.
Edith also mobilized the Senior Stars in order to help give back to the community, whether it be a walk for the March of Dimes; teaching young summer campers to dance; putting together the annual spaghetti dinner; or rallying support from county commissioners for vital social programmes.
In the last few years of her life, Edith was well looked after by her caregivers, who ensured she was as happy and healthy as could be. One of her favourite activities, balancing out all the exercise, was to be taken out for chocolate ice cream with pineapple syrup.
When she was once asked what the secret to her longevity was, Edith replied: “Geritol in the morning and martinis at night!”
Before she passed, Edith planned her own celebration of life event, as she didn’t want any tears being shed after her death. Rather, she wanted it to be a festive occasion, where her many friends and family could celebrate her storied life. The event will be held on the first week of August, closer to Edith’s birthday.
In lieu of receiving flowers, Edith preferred that donations be made to The Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration; Alliance for Aging Research; Salk Institute for Biological Studies; or “your favourite and most effective charity.”
Edith is survived by her two sons, two daughters, 11 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Our thoughts are with them all, as well as her friends and all those she has inspired through the years.