EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Santos Fierro has seen quite a few things come and go in her time living in the Borderland.

Born in 1913 in the state of Chihuahua, she and her family moved to El Paso in 1916. She’s lived here ever since.

These days her family includes her five kids plus countless grandchildren, great-grandkids, and even a few great-great-grandchildren.

“If you asked me how many grandchildren I have and great-great-grandchildren, I couldn’t tell you,” she says. “I have so many!”

Fierro dropped out of school in the fourth grade, eventually going on to work at a local hospital and then a school district later in life.

She was also married for 27 years before her husband passed away several decades ago. But she’s always had plenty of family around to keep her company.

“My family, they take care of me. They baby me,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here, I don’t think.”

In addition to a big family, Fierro says faith has played a huge role in keeping her feeling young and healthy all these years. But she also says she never shied away from her favorite food – fried chicken.

It’s faith, family, and fried chicken, after all, that have helped her get through two global pandemics, two World Wars, and all the other challenges that come with nearly 11 decades of living.

“First, I give thanks to God,” says Fierro. “Second, I pray for my big family, because it’s what has kept me going.”

But if there’s one time in history that really left a mark on her, it’s the Great Depression, which she remembers vividly as being a very tough time for her family and those around her.

“It was hard, you know,” says Fierro. “We had to get some stamps to get groceries. And we did get them, but it was pretty hard.”

Fierro and her family lived for a while in a place known as “Smeltertown,” which was essentially a company town for employees of the Asarco copper smelter and their families.

While Asarco, one of the largest economic engines in the Borderland for decades, has now been relegated to the history books, Fierro is still here and still going strong.

After turning 109 years old last month, Fierro’s family celebrated the occasion with a special party at Carino’s. And next year, when Fierro turns 110, they are planning an even bigger celebration to mark that significant milestone.

“They gave me a surprise party. They are always giving me surprises,” says Fierro. “I didn’t know what to do!”