105 and thriving

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Chatham resident Dorothy Chapple celebrated her 105th birthday Friday at Maple City Retirement Residence. Her son Allan Chapple, left, and town crier George Sims were on hand to offer congratulations.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

At 105 years old, Dorothy Chapple continues to live her best life.

The outgoing centenarian marked her milestone birthday July 2, making her the second-oldest resident in Chatham-Kent.

Chapple, who lives at Maple City Retirement Residence, celebrated with family and friends last week and had a surprise party complete with cake and greetings from town crier George Sims.

Chapple admitted she’s a little surprised to be turning 105.

“I never thought I’d be up to 100, let alone celebrating like this,” Chapple told the gathering. “I’ve had a full life. Lots of friends and good times have kept me going.”

Chapple’s post-retirement life is a lesson in aging well. Her many adventures include learning to scuba dive at 85 and riding on the back of a motorcycle at age 99.

She’s also a veteran snowbird, having spent more than 50 winters in Florida. Last winter she flew down to the sunshine state with her son, but flew back to Canada by herself.

Born after the end of the First World War in 1919, the birthday girl remembers when Chatham’s King Street West was a deeply rutted dirt road.

“The streets were loaded with tractors, wagons and horses bringing sugar beets,” Chapple told The Voice. “If you got down in a rut, you didn’t get out.”

Chapple, nee Newberry, was born to Bert Newberry and Margaret McDonald. She attended Central School for elementary – where the current Chatham Post Office stands – and the Chatham Collegiate Institute for secondary school.

From there she took a business course and then got a job as a stenographer with the Dominion Sugar Company in Chatham. When the sugar beet factory closed, she went on to work for many years at Union Gas, from where she retired.

Her career also included teaching music part-time at Ursuline College Chatham.

Dorothy married Jack Chapple in 1940 and they celebrated 62 years of marriage before he passed away. The couple had one son, Allan Chapple, who in turn had two daughters, Sherry and Terry. The matriarch now has five great grandchildren and five great, great grandchildren.

A life-long golfer, Chapple joined Maple City Golf & Country Club in 1957 and was a member until her late 80s. She was also into boating and curling.

“I enjoyed sports very much. I played every sport there was, even hockey with the men on the river,” she said.

When asked about the secret to her longevity, Chapple said being “raised on oatmeal porridge” helped, plus winters in Florida added years to her life.

Maple City Retirement Residence recreation director Carley Harlick said Chapple is one of a kind.

“She’s really outgoing and not afraid to try anything,” Harlick said. “She’s one of these ladies who really wants to get to know others. She’s interested in people and is very friendly.”

The only person in C-K older than Chapple is her friend Evelyn Hyatt who is 106. The two were besties all through school, having started kindergarten together.

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