By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Turning 100 and joining the ranks of fellow centegenarians is not as rare as it was years ago. This milestone has been attributed to certain diets, high levels of activity, and, simply, good genes and luck.
For Westborough resident Dorothy Zwicker, turning 100 on May 9 included a celebration with family and friends, as well as a special service at the Methodist Church where Pastor John Taylor, along with the congregation, presented her with a birthday cake.
“For me, it’s just a number. I may not be able to dance a jig but I am looking forward to my birthday. There is always someone here, whether it is a friend, neighbor, or family member. I am so blessed,” said Zwicker.
While she is humbled by all of the attention, Zwicker said she really doesn’t know what all of the fuss is about. She loves being engaged in activities like her weekly Rummy Q game with her daughter, Ruth Houlden and a couple of friends. In addition to her two children, (she also has a son, Lawrence) Dorothy has 10 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
“I think part of my mother’s longevity is related to who she truly is,” said Houlden. “She has always been extremely self-sufficient and thinks of others before thinking of herself. She has always had a zest for life and has traveled the world extensively. She has been to Alaska, Hawaii, California, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Holland, England, France and more.”
When she came to Westborough in 1938, she didn’t even have a freezer. She had a large garden and grew all of her own vegetables that were canned and stored in the root cellar of the house. There was no electricity on their block when they first moved in and when her late husband, Albert Leroy Zwicker, did some construction on their late 1700s home, he discovered that a tree had actually been used as a support beam inside the home. She had lots of animals to include cows, a horse, chickens, turkeys and pigs. Dorothy kept a garden up until 10 years ago. She first learned to drive at the age of 68.
“While I don’t own a computer, my grandchildren show me how to do things on theirs. It’s amazing that you can even see them on the screen of the iPad. That keeps people connected,” said Zwicker.
She used to bake a lot and, while she does that less today, she still cooks. She likes to know what is in her food, and because she grew up farming, she has a pretty healthy diet.
“When I first moved here 15 years ago, Dorothy was the first person to welcome me and my family to the neighborhood with home baked cookies, flowers and vegetables,” recalled Dalia Izvolsky, a family friend and neighbor. “She was constantly bringing over fresh produce from her garden and she made the most delicious apple pies. My two sons think of her as their adopted grandmother and we all just love and respect her dearly. We are so lucky to have her in our lives.”
She has mastered the art of letter-writing and continues to mail 50 to 60 Christmas cards each year. In addition, she does not hesitate to send a letter to a friend or family member.
“Mom is a loving, caring, kind and selfless woman. More people should be like her,” said Houlden.