by Dave Boehler
for The Beacon
There are an astonishing three residents in the Sheboygan Senior Community who are 102 years old, including Dorothy Mohr (nee Verhage).
She celebrated her birthday April 20 and was asked if she had any advice for those only hoping to make it that long.
“I sure don’t know what the secret is, that’s for sure,” Mohr said. “Just live a good, clean life, and enjoy what you’re doing.”
Imagine turning 100, however, and having the celebration limited to friends and relatives standing outside your window because the pandemic shut everything down two years ago.
“It was just sad,” said granddaughter Jenny Friedel, who lives in Plymouth. “It just felt like, ‘oh my gosh, this poor lady. She’s so strong and she’s so with it, so present.’
“We were so excited about celebrating her long life. It was sad to chuck all of those plans. We made the most of it.”
Mohr’s family planned a standard party at the assisted living facility, including a slideshow that her son puts together for major birthdays that detailed her life and events.
Instead, relatives crafted fun signs, made props, wore special outfits and stood outside while talking via phone to the woman of the hour.
“We all did what we could as a group,” Friedel said. “We sang to her and did everything that way.”
Turning 101 was a little more fun, albeit there were still covid-related restrictions in place, including a limit on how many people could be in the facilty.
So Mohr was wheel-chaired outside wearing the mink coat her mother bought her in the 1930s or 40s for a brief celebration.
Last month, finally, she was able to have the party she deserved.
A room was rented inside SSC and about a dozen people attended.
The meal, made by family members, featured items Mohr used to make: ham loaves, glorified potatoes and side dishes that included banana bread.
Instead of a birthday cake, Mohr was treated to her favorite desert, luscious lemon, which she always made at Easter.
“I enjoyed that day,” Mohr said.
As did Friedel.
“It’s inspiring to have a grandma who has lived such a long and full life,” she said. “It’s been especially fun to see her interact with her great grandchildren and to be such an example of strength and vitality for us all. She walked three miles every day for much of her life and is a life-long learner, always reading and learning new things.”
Mohr lived on the south side of Sheboygan for “many, many, many” years, according to her grandchild, before she broke her second hip in 2019.
Mohr’s husband, a minister, died when he was 65, and her parents immigrated here from Holland. Her father was a tool and die maker in the Netherlands and came to America with a letter of recommendation that led to a job at the Kohler Company.
“He was one of the first people to build a house, they had one on Lake Court Drive in Sheboygan,” Friedel said. “He was one of the first people to build. At that time it was considered country, and everybody thought he was crazy for building out there. But he built this beautiful house kind of on a hill overlooking the water.
“Grandma always talks about their ties to Kohler, and she’s proud of that. She’s very proud of her Dutch heritage.”