Almost 100 and going strong

Toni Nolf is busy.

The real estate broker takes clients to see listings, has lunch with friends and family and cares for her farmhouse in Smokey Point.

Through the years she’s put many miles on a variety of cars including Cadillacs, Buicks and Chryslers.

“I drive to Duvall and W

oodinville,” Nolf said. “I drive any place I want.”

Nolf turns 100 at the end of July.

Then she’ll be among more than 100 centenarians in Washington state who are licensed to drive, said Brad Benfield, spokesman for the state Department of Licensing.

Nolf is from Wapato, where her pioneer German parents lived. They came west from Nebraska. Her father sold real estate and insurance.

Nolf graduated from Wapato High School and ended up marrying the star athlete in town, she said. She attended what are now Washington State and Central Washington universities, and when she got a teaching job at a one-room school in Idaho, she couldn’t tell them she was married.

“I made $80 a month,” she said. “Sometimes they couldn’t pay me.”

She drove back and forth to Pullman to see her husband.

Her husband, Bill Nolf, was transferred to this area. They lived in Bothell where they had Tennessee walking horses. She was widowed in 1958 and moved to Smokey Point 35 years ago with a few horses.

She never remarried. Nolf is the mother of four, grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of six.

To keep up her driving skills for maneuvering in her 2000 Saturn, Nolf takes a driving course every two years.

Her instructor, Joey Amposta of Marysville, teaches older drivers a refresher course about highway safety. Nolf has been driving since she was 14 years old.

“To my knowledge, she is the oldest driver and student in any of my classes since I volunteered to teach,” Amposta said. “She might be the oldest student of the AARP Driver Safety Program to date.”

In Amposta’s class at the Stillaguamish Senior Center in Arlington, Nolf learned the latest traffic laws and changes affecting driving, about sharing the road and how to stay safe, maintaining a car, the effects of aging on one’s driving abilities, how to compensate for them and preparing for driving retirement, for when that time comes to her, he said.

She earned a car insurance discount for completing the course.

To keep herself sharp, Nolf maintains an exercise regimen and regularly sees her physician. She cooks, but said anything that takes more than 20 minutes to prepare is a waste of her time. She is fine having a Skippy chunky peanut butter sandwich. She still has all her teeth.

The only pill she takes is a daily aspirin.

Both of her parents lived to be 90 and four siblings lived into their 90s.

She wears glasses sometimes to watch TV or to check a word’s spelling in the dictionary. She also wears glasses to drive and prefers to be on the road during daylight hours.

“It just never occurred to me not to drive,” she said.

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451;

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