MARIETTA - At age 106, Dennis Morris of Marietta is part of a select group of the world's population known as semi-supercentenarians - or those between the ages of 105 and 109.
Now he's famous for another reason.
In a Sept. 21 Wall Street Journal article titled "Contestants Race to Map DNA of 100 Centenarians" Morris talked about his participation in a competition called the Archon Genomics X PRIZE.
"I thought it was a big deal and a very nice article," said his daughter Nancy Luthy, 70, of Marietta.
Morris, who agreed to have his DNA used for the competition that will be held in 2013, hopes to help scientists find out why folks like him have such longevity.
"(Researchers) are trying to get some kind of lead on what makes some people live longer than others," said Morris.
Morris' family members have had mixed longevity. His father died at age 79, his mother lived to the age of 98, his brother passed at age 69 and his sister lived to be 96.
"I married a home economics teacher who made sure I ate the proper food," Morris laughingly said.
Peas, carrots and leafy green substances were not Morris' favorite food, he admitted.
Luthy was in agreement.
"He doesn't like veggies," Luthy said.
Neither did Morris like the yogurt and wheat germ he starting eating daily in his middle 40s. But he ate it, after reading that was what a group of long-living Russians ate and believed contributed to their longevity.
"I did it with a purpose," said Morris. "If it's good for them, it's good for me."
Morris also attributes his semi-supercentenarian status to regular exercise. He ran two miles a day with his late wife, Sara, until age 70 and golfed until age 105.
The Morrises were married for 68 years and have three daughters.
Most of Morris' life has been spent in good health. His tonsils have been removed, he had a plastic tube put in his left ear to improve his hearing when he was in his 40s, and doctors used a balloon and put a stint in his heart after he retired from teaching at age 70.
"I have been very fortunate," said Morris. "I enjoyed my life up until this last year."
Nowadays he has to use a walker because his balance is unsteady and he spends most days in his apartment at the Glenwood Retirement Community.
In addition to his participation in the Archon Genomics X PRIZE competition Morris also began taking part in Boston University's "Genetics of Longevity Study" in February.
"We're hopeful that they will find a treatment or lead that will make it easier for medical professionals to give relief to people that have a disease and maybe find a cure," said Morris.
The competition and study could also allow the elderly to have improved health.
"It's not to extend life, it's to extend the healthy part of their lives," Luthy said.
In addition to giving blood for the DNA needed for the competition, Morris filled out paperwork about his eating, exercise, smoking and drinking habits and more, and took two memory tests over the telephone.