100 years old and busy enjoying life, thank you

August 15, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Dorothy Schwarz reluctantly gave up driving her car when she was 90 years old. That was 10 years ago.

"I didn't go far, just to church," she said.

"And around the [Baltimore] Beltway to come up to see us," her daughter, Dorothy Crist, added.

Mrs. Crist and her husband, Thomas, were living in Finksburg at the time, Mrs. Schwarz in the house in Catonsville where she and her late husband, Charles, brought up their children.

Mrs. Schwarz went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Crist after her daughter persuaded her that it was unwise to continue driving because of her age.

Mrs. Schwarz celebrated her 100th birthday July 23 at Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville, where she and Mr. and Mrs. Crist moved eight months ago. She also has TC son, Charles Schwarz, who lives in Baldwin; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Friends and relatives sent 102 birthday cards. "My room looks like a [card] store," Mrs. Schwarz said after the party.

The birthday celebration included a morning Mass at Our Lady of Angels Chapel in Charlestown, lunch for 130 people and an afternoon party at Frederick House, the assisted-living section of the retirement community.

"She was still going strong and we were exhausted," Mrs. Crist said.

She said her mother has never been seriously ill. Mrs. Schwarz wears a pacemaker and a hearing aid and walks with the aid of a walker.

She has had two corneal transplants for cataracts and could see fairly well until recently. Her vision has deteriorated in the past few months, Mrs. Crist said, making it impossible for Mrs. Schwarz to read or crochet.

It has also become difficult for her to watch her favorite television soap operas.

Mrs. Schwarz's physical condition is good enough to allow her to enjoy bus trips with other Charlestown residents to the Cozy Restaurant in Thurmont and to dinner theaters.

But she passed up a trip to a baseball game. "I thought that would be too much," she said.

Mrs. Schwarz said she liked living in Finksburg, although she was not able to be as active in St. John's Catholic Church, Westminster, as she had been at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Catonsville, where she belonged to senior citizens and bridge groups.

She doesn't have a secret to longevity. "I leave it to the Lord," she said. "He brought me here for some purpose, I don't know what."

No part of her life stands out, Mrs. Schwarz said, adding that it has all been good.

She remembers seeing the flames from the great Baltimore fire of 1904, the iceman coming to the house to fill the icebox and trolley rides when she could travel across Baltimore for a nickel.

Mrs. Schwarz attended business school and worked as a typist for a few years before getting married in 1915. Her husband, who worked for Baltimore and Ohio railroad, always had a Christmas garden so elaborate that it usually took until New Year's Day to complete, she said.

Mr. Schwarz died in 1976; the couple had been married 61 years.

Mr. and Mrs. Crist moved to Finksburg 23 years ago. They wanted larger acreage and their daughter wanted horses, an impossibility in Catonsville.

"We made a pact," Mrs. Crist said. "When it wasn't fun any more, we weren't going to kill ourselves. We were going to give it up and enjoy life."

Mr. Crist, 70, is retired from the Postal Service, where he was a manager for manpower development. Mrs. Crist, 67, is a retired registered nurse. Their "enjoy life" activities now include golf, swimming, bicycling, cards -- in Mr. Crist's words, "anything but work."

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