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Archive for Monday, December 29, 2008

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She’s in shipshape: Retired teacher keeping mind, body active at 90

Lawrence resident Dorothy McGregor, 90, exercises five days a week for a hour each day. When the weather prevents her from getting out to the gym, she does most of her workout at home.

Lawrence resident Dorothy McGregor, 90, exercises five days a week for a hour each day. When the weather prevents her from getting out to the gym, she does most of her workout at home.

December 29, 2008

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Dorothy McGregor arrives at Lawrence Athletic Club on Mesa Way at 5:30 a.m., five days a week.

“Now that I’m getting a little older I sometimes start later — about 5:45 a.m.,” she says with a mischievous look in her eyes.

McGregor starts with 10 minutes of stretching and flexibility exercises, followed by 20 minutes of machine and free weights and ends with 30 minutes of cardio.

“So what?” you may ask. “Many people do that.”

What makes McGregor’s routine remarkable is that she’s 90.

Her body is lean and flexible, her mind sharp, and she’s excited about life’s learning opportunities. She didn’t start exercising until she retired, but learning has always been important to her.

She was born in Lawrence in 1918 and moved to her grandmother’s Emporia home in 1923 when her mother died.

“My mother’s early death shocked everyone,” McGregor says. “People on both sides of my family usually lived well into their 90s. My aunt Rachel, who was more like my sister, died last year at 104.”

When her father remarried, she returned to Lawrence, graduated from high school in 1936 and taught at rural schools for four years.

“I stayed with friends during the week because I’d no transport in those days,” she says. “My social life was somewhat limited. It mostly revolved around family and church. A lady with three sons invited me to a mother/daughter church event, then to a shower at her home. Her son Ronald was the only male there. He looked like a lost lamb, and I didn’t pay much attention to him.”

He noticed her. They dated on weekends and married in 1942, a month before he was drafted into the Army.

“That was hard,” she remembers. “I accompanied him to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and Fort Crowder, Missouri. When he was sent to the Philippines, I moved back to my grandmother’s home in Emporia.”

She graduated from Kansas State Teachers’ College and returned to Lawrence in 1946. Ronald got his doctorate in botany, and she received a master’s degree in education at Kansas University. She taught at New York School in Lawrence for 20 years, followed by another 20 as a language arts consultant for USD 497.

She retired at 66.

“I did the extra year, and that was it,” she says. “I’d seen people hang on and on. I didn’t want to do that, so I imposed decisions upon myself.”

She exercises her mind by reading voraciously.

“I’ve exhausted the library, but friends keep me well-supplied with books,” she says. “I love writing down moving quotes like ‘for you a thousand times over,’ from ‘The Kite Runner.’ Isn’t that a great quote?” she asks.

She repeats it softly.

Does it apply to her husband?

“Yes,” she says.

“We still like each other. We love spending time together, but we do our own thing as well. Some days Ron says: ‘Look at the beautiful sunshine, let’s sit outside,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, let’s get our dose of vitamin D,’ and out we go.”

She wants to continue learning and growing, and is determined to keep exercising.

“I want to stay at the top of the heap,” she says, “but I can’t do that sitting on a rocking chair all day.”

Comments

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 5 years, 3 months ago

Cleo, no not evil. Just differences in generations and in what's deemed as important.

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Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

Are these two people anomalies, or is it the way they were raised? It sounds very odd to me for people that age to be doing all that. Cradle to grave work doesn't sound very appealing to me.However we have an exercise room here in Vermont Towers and I was down there yesterday and today. Someone who has a key to the storage closet came in to get something and told me they were glad to see someone using it.Actually it was my eleven year old grandson Caleb that got me to using it.Is it evil to retire and take it easy?

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xdcr 5 years, 3 months ago

They should also mention that her husband, Dr. Ronald, who will be also be 90 in just a couple of months, goes to work at K.U, in the building that is named after him, seven days a week, 365 days a year. What will you and your better half be doing when your 90?

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Donnuts 5 years, 3 months ago

Good for her. I have tried to get the people I hung out with to do something besides drink and smoke and all and then I went back to school and gave up on them because I realized they were not worth the salt in my tears. I moved on with the long term in my mind. I still struggle with doing my yoga and all but it sure is more than any of them ever accomplished or amounted to for all I care.Great job!!! Keep up the good work. I can only hope I would age as gracefully.

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Teapot9 5 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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SofaKing 5 years, 3 months ago

I aspire to be her someday. What a great story.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 3 months ago

I should give her my library, Victorian novels and all.I need to pass it along to somebody!(Kudos, fine lady, you've got 97% of us beat and you've probably got extra credits points to add into that!)

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montanams 5 years, 3 months ago

Mrs. McGregor was my 6th grade teacher at New York school. I am now 63 and can't say that I get as muchexercise as she does! Kudos to her and Ron.

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BigPrune 5 years, 3 months ago

Just think, they've been married 66 years. I'm sure there is some lovin' with that likey.

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Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

As I think I have said before, there goes my last, best, excuse for not exercising because I am sixty-three. Heck, I'm just a youngun!

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password 5 years, 3 months ago

Notice that he said they still "like" each other - not "love" each other? I think that "liking a special someone" is a base factor of a long lasting relationship. I think it's great.

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Christine Anderson 5 years, 3 months ago

What a great, great lady! I admit, her initiative puts me to shame.

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Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 5 years, 3 months ago

Sarcopenia, or muscle loss and weakening, is so prevalent in the elderly. Hats off to this lady for staying ahead of the game!

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labmonkey 5 years, 3 months ago

Ron better watch it or Jack LeLane will steal her.

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