SILVER SPRING – In 1913, Woodrow Wilson was president. World War I was still a year away. The United States Congress ratified the 9th Amendment, guaranteeing women to vote, seven years later. Computers and Smartphones were only mentioned in science fiction books, if at all.
And Dorothy Sheppard was born.
On Sept. 8, she celebrated her 106th birthday amongst family and friends at Cadia Healthcare Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Silver Spring, where she has lived for the past two years.
When asked what she attributed her long life, Sheppard replied, “a good diet.”
Her daughter, Carole Glover, agreed, noting, “She never ate fried foods. She kept her coffee and tea without sugar or cream.”
Still, Glover admitted that her parents drank one shot of Inver House scotch nightly.
Sheppard is the oldest of 16 children, three of whom are still alive today. One sister turned 100 this year, and another is in her early-90s.
The invention she found most amazing in her lifetime was the airplane and how easy it made traveling, she said. With so many new advancements created during her lifetime, some of which cut the amount of time to make a meal greatly, she enjoys experiencing new ones constantly.
“I think changes are necessary,” she said from her bed at Cadia Healthcare.
However, one change she did not care for is the way people treat each other. She preferred the days when she could leave her door unlocked without worrying if something bad would happen.
She visited St. Croix in the Virgin Islands enough to know she loved it. With her second husband, whom she married after her first husband had died, she retired there, staying for about 20 years.
After he passed away, Sheppard came to Silver Spring to live with Glover and her family.
Sheppard grew up in Maine and graduated from New York City College with a degree in journalism, although she never held a job in that field. Instead, she worked in the high-end garment industry at a major department store.
While at college, she met the man who was to be her husband. Upon graduation, they settled in Maine, before moving to Connecticut.
She went on to have three children, seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Through most of her life, well past her 100th birthday, Sheppard knitted and crocheted quite a bit.
She would make a lap quilt, put it down and start a new one, Glover said. Her mother also sewed most of her wardrobe. When it came time for Sheppard’s move to Silver Spring, Glover said she found 24 lap quilts and learned that her mother also was a big reader.
“She used to read at least three books a week,” Glover said. “I think that is one of the things that keeps her mind so clear.”
While Sheppard pursued these hobbies, she listened to music. Her two favorites are Il Divo and Yanni whom Glover took her mother to his concert several years ago.
“We were up in the nosebleed section,” she recalled.
Suddenly, her row was chosen for an upgrade, moving them both down near the stage.
“She was like a teenager,” Glover said, remembering that her mother kept yelling, “There he is. There he is.”
During the two years Sheppard has been at Cadia Healthcare, Mary George has been her nurse.
“She’s doing perfect,” George, a licensed practical nurse at the facility, said. “She eats on her own, feeds herself. Most of the time she is in good spirits.”
Added George, “I admire her. She is great.”
Sheppard ended the interview on her terms, having earned the right to these past 106 years.
She closed her eyes as she announced, “I think I want to go to sleep.”