SCHENECTADY – You would not guess it from looking at her, but Schenectady woman Dorothy Perry turns 102 this weekend.
Unlike many of her peers, Perry proudly walks around the halls and grounds of Kingsway in Schenectady unaided by any walker or cane or even the need for eyeglasses. She credits her sharp mind and good health to her daily exercise, her faith in God and an occasional glass of red wine.
“I have a wonderful family, and God’s been so good to me,” Perry said. “I don’t have anything wrong with me. I go to the doctor once a year for my checkup, I get my eyes examined, my vision is fine, I can read without glasses.”
Perry was born Dec. 11, 1920. She was born in the small town of Humphrey, Nebraska. Her family moved to Omaha and eventually Grand Island, Nebraska. Perry was one of 14 children in her family.
Perry worked for a dime store in Grand Island; she was on the store’s bowling team. One night a group of men was on her team’s lane.
“This one fella sat next to me, and I asked him something about the score,” Perry said. “When we left he asked me where I worked and Saturday night he was outside the store and asked me on a date. Two weeks later he told me he loved me and I said ‘Well, I don’t love you.’”
That man, Gordon Perry, would eventually become Dorothy’s husband. He has been working for AT&T doing cable splicing, and after about six weeks would get moved to another town. Two months after he Dorothy met, Gordon was transferred to Illinois.
“We wrote to each other every day,” Dorothy said. “He was drafted in June of 1941, before the war ever started. When he had his draft card he was in Illinois, and worked his way back to Nebraska so he could say goodbye to me before he went back to New York; his parents lived in Pleasantville, New York.”
The couple made plans to get married after Gordon’s second furlough. Gordon’s father mailed Dorothy a diamond engagement ring.
“I guess my husband impressed his mother and father enough to believe that he really loved me and I loved him,” Dorothy said. That she would give him her engagement ring to send to me, at the time they hadn’t even met me.”
Dorothy moved in with her in-laws in Pleasantville, New York, and got there a week before she got married.
“My in-laws had a big wedding reception, I met all the neighbors, and everyone was so nice,” Dorothy said. “One of the ladies was one of the supervisors at Reader’s Digest. Pleasantville is where Reader’s Digest started. So she asked if I’d like to work through the Christmas season, and I lasted four years until I had my first baby.”
Dorothy continues to be an avid knitter; she is currently working on a baby blanket for her next great-grandchild. She worked in knitting and yarn stores for 40 years.
“In 40 years, I had three different owners I worked for. Every time they sold the business, they made sure they had to take Dorothy Perry with it,” Dorothy said. “At first, it was called Miss Gold’s Yarn Shop.”
Dorothy also helped high school students learn to knit in the shop. On her 100th birthday, Dorothy received 210 cards, many from the people she had taught how to knit.
Dorothy had four daughters, Barbara O’Keefe, Joyce Scholz, Alison Wilson and Deborah Migliorini.
“I have 16 great-grandchildren, and 20 grandchildren,” Dorothy said. “I have 41 in my family that I remember at Christmas and birthdays.”
Gordon passed away 17 years ago. He and Dorothy has been married for 65 years at that time.
Dorothy has lived at Kingsway Community in Schenectady for the past nine years. She talked highly of the kind and helpful staff and of the many friends she has made living there.
Dorothy not only participates in the Wii bowling league at Kingsway, but also enjoys going for walks, playing games, gardening and helping her daughter pull weeds among other activities in her community.
@dgazette Schenectady’s Dorothy Perry on turning 102 – More at DailyGazette.com; From our Stan Hudy – Daily Gazette
Dorothy described how she gets down on the floor every morning to do her exercises.
“I put my feet back and forth like this about 15 times,” Dorothy said. “Then I pull myself up and I touch my ankles 10 times, then I lay on the floor and pull my rear end up so I’m off the floor and I hold myself like that until I count to 60 twice. It has strengthened my legs so much. I can walk up and down the stairs with no problem at all.”
She is the oldest resident living there, her daughter Joyce Scholz said. She explained her mother defies what someone her age is supposed to look like.
“She’s very active, she never forgets a birthday,” Scholz said. “I don’t know how she remembers all that she remembers. Her physical and mental capacity is just outstanding.”