Dorothy Walker, at 107 years old, is one of the oldest women in Oregon. She lives at Somerset Assisted Living in Gladstone.
This day she is up and moving earlier than usual. Its a big day.
“What did you do with my glasses?” she asked as she tucked her head under the half-shell hair dryer in the center’s beauty salon.
She reads the paper as she gets her hair done for a building wide party in her honor, celebrating her remarkably long life.
Dorothy entered the world in Kansas on January 22, 1905. Now, she lives alone in an assisted living apartment. The walls are full of memories of gatherings with friends and relatives. A dance trophy from a time long past stands on her book shelf. She loves to dance.
“When I get out dancing, well it makes you feel young!” She said.
As the Roaring '20s swept America, 16-year-old Dorothy blew the sax on the big stages of New York City. She still has a black-and-white picture of her all girl band. Her father disapproved; she played anyway.
As the years passed, Dorothy married twice but never had children. She danced professionally in ballroom competitions. Another picture on the wall shows her delight in the middle of a dance. She and her husband also owned a printing company before he died and she moved to Oregon.
Now as age is chasing her down, she's ready to share her wisdom.
“Go ahead and treat everybody nice and do the best you can,” she said.
And while you're at it, stop letting fear rule you.
“No I’m not afraid of anything. No, no, no I’m not,” she said shaking her head.
And quit trying to control life.
“Just have to go ahead and accept what life hands out,” Dorothy said.
And stop worrying about the past.
“I try not to look back too much. You're supposed to look forward," she said. "You're not really supposed to look back. Let the past take care of the past."
Dorothy's outlook inspires her friends, including 86-year-old Ellen Seeley.
“Its just her attitude about life," Seeley said. "She's just a wonderful person."
JoAnn Zinch, 82, agrees, saying, “Dorothy is one of the most remarkable people I have ever known.”
Dorothy's friends say she's only recently started to show her age. Her eyes are fading and her hearing is mostly gone.
Dorothy points out she lived a clean life, never smoked or drank alcohol and always stayed active. She’s not particularly spiritual or worried about death.
“I hope I go to a good place," she said. "I want to go up not down."
And the sense of humor that's cushioned the ups and downs of life is still strong.
“Sure I’m getting past the age that most people live,” she said. "I've either done something wrong or something right!"