FORT SMITH — The Guinness Book of World Records has recently honored seven Catholic siblings for their longevity.
Seven of the children of Jake and Agnes Post of Altus had a combined age of 682 years and 36 days as of July. Three of the seven are centenarians — 102-year-old Katherine Graham of Washington, Mo., 101-year-old Louise Ritter of New Orleans and 100-year-old Theresa Shaw of Stockdale, Texas. They are joined by Dr. James Post of Fort Smith, 99; Deacon Mathew Post of Altus, 97, who died in October; Antonia “Toni” Plugge of Dallas, 93; and Estella “Stella” Conatser of Ozark, 90.
The family included two more sons, the late Thomas and Eugene Post.
“My cousins have always joked about our family longevity at reunions,” Carol Harper, daughter of Dr. James Post, said. “Our grandmother lived to be 104, and her mother was well into her 90s when she died. My cousin Sharon (Plugge) handled the application process, and everyone gathered their parents’ birth certificates, marriage certificates and other evidence. We started last spring and our application was approved in July 2022.”
Each of the siblings will receive a certificate from Guinness, and the family expects to receive their books in a few weeks.
“My parents were grape growers in Altus,” Dr. James Post, a member of St. Boniface Church in Fort Smith, said. “We grew grapes, apples and peaches. We grew up during Prohibition, and our family business could only make wine for home and sacramental use, but the farm kept us busy. As soon as we were tall enough we started picking potatoes and throwing them into bags.”
The family’s faith sustained them through economic and emotional challenges, including their son Thomas’ death after being hit by a truck.
“We said the family rosary quite a bit,” Dr. Post said. “Our pastor’s residence was across the street from our house. All of us attended St. Mary’s School. My brothers (Matt and Eugene, who died a few years ago) and I went to Subiaco, and my sisters went to St. Scholastica Academy and St. Francis Borgia in Washington, Mo.”
Dr. Post graduated from Colgate University as World War II began, enlisted in the Navy and was sent to Yale for medical school. Following his internship and residency in Oklahoma City, he fulfilled his military obligation during the Korean War. He and his wife Patsy moved to Fort Smith in the early 1950s and he set up a pediatrics practice. They raised eight children and were active in St. Boniface Church, where Dr. Post was a Eucharistic minister for 15 years.
“My dad recently received a certificate for being St. Boniface’s oldest living parishioner,” Harper said, “and a commemorative brick was placed in the memory garden.”
One of the siblings, the late Dc. Matthew Post, served St. Mary Church in Altus and brought the Eucharist to residents of nursing homes and shut-ins over a 40-mile radius for 25 years, all while running Post Familie Winery and raising 12 children with his wife Betty.
Amy Sexton, a daughter of Dc. Post, said. “All my aunts and uncles were trained in health care. My dad was a Navy medic during World War II. Aunt Louise and Aunt Theresa served as registered nurses during the war.”
Although the siblings are scattered throughout the country, living in Missouri, Louisiana, Texas and several towns in Arkansas, they remain close.
“Last summer, Aunt Louise, who is 101 1/2, took a plane by herself from New Orleans to visit her brothers and sisters,” Harper said. “She went all over and got lots of attention.”
The extended Post cousins have stayed close, keeping in touch at annual family reunions in Altus and through Facebook and texts.
“When I was growing up, we’d visit our cousins in Altus whenever we could,” Harper said, “and during the summer our out-of-state cousins would come to visit, too. Over 60 of us would get together and play.”
According to Jan Plugge, who keeps the family history, Agnes and Jake Post, parents of the nine siblings, had 63 grandchildren, 163 great-grandchildren and 147 great-great-grandchildren so far.
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