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Katherine Johnson (center), Caroline Waterlow (left) and Ezra Edelman (right) at the 89th Annual Academy Awards on February 26, 2017 (Tyler Golden/Getty Images)

For a girl who loved to count everything, you might expect Katherine G. Johnson to be grateful that she was alive to count her 99th year. It’s not every day that a civilian gets honored by NASA, as Johnson was last month as the space agency opened the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia.

But you would be wrong. When asked pointedly about the distinction bestowed upon her for playing such a pivotal role in the American space program, the nonagenarian didn’t know what to make of the hoopla.

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