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Direct Relief Volunteer, Social Media Maven Edythe Kirchmaier Dies at Age 107

Santa Barbara resident — believed to be Facebook's oldest user — passed away surrounded by family

Edythe Kirchmaier, beloved Direct Relief volunteer who died Saturday, is seen here celebrating her 107th birthday in January.
Edythe Kirchmaier, beloved Direct Relief volunteer who died Saturday, is seen here celebrating her 107th birthday in January. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)

Edythe Kirchmaier, the beloved 107-year-old Direct Relief volunteer who also was believed to be Facebook’s oldest user, died over the weekend.

Kirchmaier died Saturday surrounded by family members, according to a statement on the Direct Relief website.

“​Edythe’s generosity of spirit, humble service to others, and joyful embrace of life’s wonders have been an inspiring example to the entire Direct Relief family privileged to know her, and to people around the world,” the Goleta nonprofit organization said. “The rare and precious light in Edythe’s eye sparked for nearly 108 years.

“It is with a heavy heart and profound gratitude for Edythe having shared so much of her extraordinary life with Direct Relief in joyful service to others that we extend our sympathies to Edythe’s family and her many friends and colleagues.”

Volunteer work had long been important to Kirchmaier, who was born Jan. 22, 1908, in Springfield, Ohio. She lived several places before moving to Lompoc and then into a Santa Barbara home in 1948.

Edythe Kirchmaier sits with her great-grandchildren earlier this year during a reception celebrating her 107th birthday at Direct Relief headquarters in Goleta. She died Saturday at age 107. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)
Edythe Kirchmaier sits with her great-grandchildren earlier this year during a reception celebrating her 107th birthday at Direct Relief headquarters in Goleta. She died Saturday at age 107. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)

After retiring from the Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County, Kirchmaier and her late husband, Joe, served two 18-month stints teaching abroad for Direct Relief in Taiwan. Even after her husband died seven years ago, Kirchmaier never stopped giving.

She gained international fame two years ago after she told Direct Relief that her 105th birthday wish was to raise awareness for the organization’s work by getting 105,000 people to “like” Direct Relief’s Facebook page — a goal she surpassed while amassing thousands of her own followers as the world’s oldest Facebook user.

Kirchmaier appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show and the Today show to share her cause, all the while retaining an admirable, humble aura.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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