SMALL TOWNS: Waushara County family reunion celebrates two centenarian sisters

Verla lives in Saxeville and turned 100. Her big sister, Dorthy, resides in Fish Creek; she's 102.
Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT
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SAXEVILLE, Wis. (WBAY) - They are two sisters who share a very unique and rare connection. And perhaps what’s most charming, they don’t consider it that big of a deal.

This week in Small Towns, we travel to Saxeville to meet these amazing sisters.

A recent family reunion in Waushara County celebrated quite the milestone.

Verla Jones is 100 years old. The party’s special guest, her sister Dorthy Riley, just happens to be 102.

But if it seems like reaching the century mark is a big deal to these ladies, well, kind of.

“I don’t think I ever gave it much thought, just kind of crept up on me,” says Verla.

“I never thought about it, went through every birthday and that was the number,” adds Dorthy.

Dorthy and Verla, along with their sister Alice, grew up in Neenah.

“We always had each other so we didn’t get lonesome or bored and it was just very interested in all kinds of things,” recalls Dorthy.

“We were real close, my mother kind of dressed us like twins when we were growing up, and we were very close, bought our first car together,” remembers Verla.

Common connections continued throughout their lives.

Verla and Dorthy both married a younger man, each had four children, and when their first husbands passed away, they married another younger man, whom they again have outlived.

Today, Verla lives in Saxeville, while Dorthy resides in Fish Creek.

They both live on their own, still drive, and are in great health.

“Very good, my doctor is always surprised at my blood work, comes back and says better than more of his 40-year-olds,” says Dorthy

“I guess it’s probably unusual, but we just take it for granted that that’s the way it is,” adds Verla with a smile.

So what is it that’s allowed for these ladies to become centenarians?

Well for starters, “Everything in moderation, just take it easy,” says Verla, with Dorthy adding, “And a good attitude is most important I think, and whatever happens to you, handle it.”

Another key perhaps, is their daily cocktail, generally a Manhattan.

“Well yes, or a Martini or wine,” explains Dorthy.

“Maybe one and a half, but weak, I add a lot of water to them,” says Verla with a chuckle.

And on special occasions, cocktail hour might start a little earlier.

“Because it’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” points out Verla.

And finally, both Verla and Dorthy say to live a long life you have to stay active, mentally and physically.

“Once you stop and sit down for the rest of your life, that’s it,” advises Dorthy.

“I read a lot and knit, I recycle old cards and play cards a lot,” says Verla.

Verla also still volunteers at a local hospital and has lunch each week with her church’s ladies group, while Dorthy is a regular at her local YMCA.

Both are extremely grateful for what they’re able to do at this point in their lives.

“Yes I am, I feel very blessed,” says Verla.

“I don’t know, I keep saying as long as God keeps me going at this age he better make it interesting,” says Dorthy, before both break out in laughter.

At this point, the two sisters show no signs of slowing down, and in fact, are already planning birthday celebrations next year when Verla with turn 101 and Dorthy 103.

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