Brandon man celebrates 102nd birthday surrounded by family

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Every single afternoon, you’ll find Howard Ledbetter walking laps inside of his Brandon gym. He tries to fit in at least 10 laps, which is a mile.

“And the farther I go, the slower I get," Ledbetter said.

Nothing seems to slow this man down. Not even turning 102 years old.

“I don’t feel a day over 95," he said of his birthday. "It's just another day, another day with me.”

Family and friends gathered to celebrate.

“He is what we call a force of nature," said graddaughter Carla Savage. "Granddaddy does not let anything stop him.”

It was on this day 102 years ago that Ledbetter was born.

Gas was 22 cents a gallon, and the U.S. was fighting the first World War. 

The Great Depression wasn’t something Ledbetter learned about in school; he lived it.

“I used to hunt for squirrels in the woods, and I'd take them home and my mother would skin them and cook them," he recalled. "I saw many people standing in soup lines, waiting to get a bowl of soup or something to eat. They were just hungry.”

He moved from Alabama to Tampa in the 1940s, and began his family business, Ledbetter's Mercedes Repair, in the 70s. The business has remained in the family ever since.

“I got a large family, and they all love me and take care of me," he said.

That love was all around today.

"I think my grandfather has a love for life that is just unparalleled," Savage said.

And if you ask him what the secret to making it this far, his answer is simple.

"Well, the main secret is, and I always tell everyone this, 'Don't ever stop breathing!'" Ledbetter said.