Local woman celebrates 100th birthday

OKEECHOBEE — Dollie Tillman celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 8 at the Okeechobee KOA. Campground Manager Wendy Woodman, and Activities Director Lisa Nixon organized a surprise party for the well-loved resident of the KOA community. Judy Swanson, a former neighbor, described by Mrs. Tillman as a dear friend, even flew in for the event as a surprise.

Mrs. Tillman credits her good genes, inherited from her father for her longevity. She said she really hasn’t done anything special that she can think of. She still tries to stay active, walking every day to check the mail, but she does have to use a walker now. She is not on any medications for blood pressure or blood sugar or anything else — just a few vitamins here and there — but all in all, she says, she is amazingly healthy.

Dollie Tillman celebrates her 100th birthday with close friend Judy Swanson at the surprise party the KOA residents threw for her. Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.

Born and raised in Marion, Ohio in 1918, she worked at JCPenney for about 16 years, first as a clerk and then she had her own department. When she left JCPenney, she went to work for a privately owned department store called Sutton Lightners where she also had her own department until her retirement in 1986.

Reading is her number one hobby now (she said she will read anything), although in the past, she used to enjoy crocheting and embroidery and made each of her children an afghan. Mrs. Tillman said her friend Gail comes over and cleans her house for her and then they go shopping and go out to eat lunch. She also attends Oakview Baptist Church when she is able. She no longer drives, but considers herself a very independent woman.

Mrs. Tillman, whose maiden name was Keil, had an older and a younger sister, but they are both deceased. She has two half-brothers with whom she has a close relationship, and two sons. Her youngest son, Raymond, lives in Louisville, Ky., and her older son Kenneth lives down the road from her in the KOA. She has six grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and at least two great great grand children, but she said there are so many now she is starting to have trouble keeping up with them all so it’s possible she could have missed one. Many of the family surprised her by coming for Christmas. They wanted to come for her birthday but because of college classes had to come while school was out. She said she asked her son if anyone was coming for Christmas this year, but he kept saying, ”No, I guess they have to spend time with the other side of the family this year.” She was very happily surprised to see them when they all showed up.

Dollie Tillman

“Things have changed a lot in my lifetime,” she said. “I went to a one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade.

“And the food — everything is microwaved now. I don’t really care for that.”

She has always made her own pie crusts and noodles and still does now. She said her mother taught her how after her husband said, “don’t ever cook these things again.” He was referring to store bought pasta. So Mrs. Tillman explained, she asked her mother how to make noodles, and her mother said, “it’s just eggs and flour.” Once she learned how, she never used store-bought noodles again.

Mrs. Tillman moved to Okeechobee about 10 years ago. She came here to visit and found her home, she said.

Dollie Tillman, 100 years old

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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