Carmichael woman, 98, conquers Facebook

Determined to stay in touch with family members and acquaintances, Marjorie Loyd joined Facebook two weeks ago and quickly linked to 19 friends. Loyd learned to use a computer three years ago, when she was 95. “”It’s kind of humbling,” she says. “Every time I learn something, I learn I have a lot more to learn.”

Marjorie Loyd is 98. She uses a walker. She can’t hear that well. And her macular degeneration makes it difficult to read the print on a computer screen.

Still, the Carmichael resident has linked to 19 friends on Facebook since joining the social networking site two weeks ago.

“I don’t think there’s anything in life that takes the place of people and friends,” Loyd said. “I love people, and I love contact with people.”

More than 250 million people use Facebook, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Linder. The fastest-growing demographic are those 35 and older, but the company doesn’t break out how many users are 98.

Loyd was born in Tennessee on Oct. 18, 1910. Her family had a horse and buggy, a party-line telephone shared with a handful of neighbors, and an outhouse. Loyd can still remember that junior high school day when her family received indoor plumbing.

With surprising speed, Loyd now wheels a walker through her senior residential facility, where she is known by name to everyone who passes. Inside her spacious apartment, she settles onto a chair in front of a laptop, on which the 18-point font is enlarged 150 percent. Loyd e-mails, writes letters in Microsoft Word and reaches out with Facebook.

Her 66-year-old daughter in Richmond, Va., joined Facebook a few days after she did.

Loyd said she joined to keep tabs on her former pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento.

The Rev. David Thompson said he was blown away when he received a friend request from Loyd in his e-mail inbox.

“I suggested to her that it would be a good idea, but I didn’t expect her to follow through with it,” Thompson said.

Loyd learned to use a computer three years ago, at age 95. She had just stopped driving and wanted to stay linked with family and friends. Her husband, long-time Sacramento physician Herlan Loyd, had died in 2001.

She had a friend at church pick out a laptop with a good screen, and after several quick tutorials, taught herself how to use it.

When her eyes deteriorated so much it was difficult to read the letters, Loyd hired a computer specialist to enlarge fonts on the display and put icons on the desktop so they would be easily accessible.

She swapped out the keyboard letters with larger-lettered keys herself.

“It’s kind of humbling because every time I learn something, I learn I have a lot more to learn,” Loyd said.

Loyd has frequently defied expectations. Before many women ran businesses, she owned a used typewriter company in Chicago to support her siblings after their father died. This was just as electric versions were being launched.

Now, even in her tenth decade, Loyd travels every odd-numbered year. She has a trip planned next month to visit family in Tennessee and then plans to celebrate her 99th birthday at the Long Island home of one of her eight grandchildren. She booked her airline ticket online.

She also continues to confront hurdles as they come. When she can’t read something on the computer, she hits the print button and places the printout in a closed-circuit television machine that magnifies letters via a video camera.

That’s how Loyd reads the Wall Street Journal every day and her subscription to Forbes magazine.

“It’s amazing,” said Thompson. “She finds ways to do everything.”

When macular degeneration made it tough to read her laptop, Marjorie Loyd hired a computer expert to enlarge the typefaces. She also can magnify type by placing printouts in a closed-circuit TV machine utilizing a video camera.