105 and still living on her own terms


Herald Writer

EVERETT — At age 100, Isabelle Doyle was an annuity salesman’s nightmare. The retired saleswoman did her own laundry, cooking and cleaning, lived at home, and showed no sign of slowing down.

When the New York native finally moved out that year, to go to Sunrise View Retirement Villa in Everett, it was mainly for the convenience of living near her grandchildren. She had outlived everyone she knew in New York, including her only son and three husbands.

Now a day shy of 105, Doyle still lives in her own apartment, though she takes her meals in a common dining room. She walks, talks and tells jokes.

She doesn’t have the secret to long life. Her own long years she chalks up to clean leaving and divine providence.

"It’s just because God has been good to me. I’ve lived right and never smoked, drank or dissipated in any way," she said.

Retirement home staff, residents and Doyle’s family helped her celebrate the big 105 early. They threw a party Wednesday, complete with cards, flowers, gifts and musicians.

The day before, a group of elementary schoolchildren had come to sing to "Grandma Doyle."

"I talked about Santa Claus. I said I would tell Santa Claus to be sure to fill their stockings with Christmas gifts," she said.

Hers has been a good life, she said. Born Nov. 24, 1895, in a suburb of Syracuse, the superannuated senior spent her life raising her son, working and being married to railroad workers.

Her first husband died of the flu in 1918, leaving her with a 3-year-old son. She worked 18 years in sales, 10 as a traveling cosmetics demonstrator, and another eight selling foot aids.

That was a long time ago. Doyle doesn’t even remember exactly when she retired. Now, Doyle begins each day with a cup of coffee and spends time with retirement home activities and keeping up with her 14 great-grandchildren.

She said she feels that her long life has been a blessing.

Her only complaint, other than the damp climate here, is that she does get lonesome, as do a lot of people who live in the retirement home "who have known better in their lives," she said.

She prays for companionship every day. It’s always the same prayer.

"Now I lay me down to sleep. I wish I had a man to keep. If there is one beneath my bed, I hope he heard each word I said."

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