Thursday, June 21, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Eulalia McCamly became so skilled at milking cows, driving tractors and stacking hay bales on her family’s South Dakota farm that her father took notice of the teen’s efforts.
Some of those bales weighed more than 90 pounds, but McCamly — who was just 5 feet tall — handled them as well as anyone else.
“I would stack the hay as high as I could reach,” she said. “He would tell everyone, ‘She’s leaving the rest of us behind.’ ”
Now 94, McCamly moved with her husband and children to Las Vegas in 1962 because they wanted to leave cold weather behind them.
She always imagined life in a big city, and even though Las Vegas had only about 100,000 residents, it was massive compared with Potter County, S.D.
McCamly has watched the valley grow through the years into a metropolis with more than 2 million residents. She’s also watched her family grow — and grow and grow and grow.
When the family’s latest baby, Donald Joshua, was born in November in California, it made McCamly a great-great-great-grandmother. The family believes it is one of only a handful worldwide with six living generations; Guinness World Records says seven living generations is the record.
McCamly is quick to identify relatives in family photos hanging on the living room wall of her northeast Las Vegas residence, especially a portrait that was recently taken of all six generations. She’s proudly holding Donald Joshua in the portrait.
“He was a preemie and only weighed 4 pounds. But look at him now,” McCamly said.
McCamly has five children, 16 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, 40 great-great-grandchildren and, now, a great-great-great-grandson. Her oldest child, Yvonne Taylor, is 77 years old. Yvonne’s son, Les, just celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary.
McCamly had quadruple bypass surgery about 10 years ago, and she’s had both hips replaced. But they haven’t slowed her active lifestyle, including bowling leagues at Sam’s Town and Friday night bunco games.
The bunco winner has to bring cake for the group’s next gathering, and McCamly smiles when proclaiming she’s made a few cakes over the years.
“She’s never given up,” Taylor said. “Even after the open-heart surgery, she was back at the bowling alley as soon as she felt better. My mom is a fighter. She’s worked hard her entire life.”
McCamly is frequently asked about the keys to her longevity.
“All I can say is I ate a good country breakfast every day,” she said. “I always worked hard and didn’t drink or smoke.”
In 1940, as a 16-year-old, she married David McCamly, who was also a farmer. Their 960-acre farm was a great setting to raise a family, giving them a chance to instill in their own children the hardworking mentality McCamly learned as a child.
It’s something that has been passed down to other generations, Taylor said.
After moving to Las Vegas, McCamly worked 25 years as a telephone operator at a time when an operator had to manually patch through calls. Later, when she was in her 70s, McCamly worked three part-time jobs after her husband died.
“I told her to stop working, but she wasn’t having any of it,” Taylor said. “She asked, ‘Do you want me to sit around in this rockin’ chair and die?’ ”
McCamly has no plans to slow down. She’ll continue to add bowling trophies, family photos and memories.