OCEAN PINES – Two Ocean Pines residents did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stop them from celebrating their 100th birthday.
On July 17, Dot Ross celebrated her 100th year of life with residents at The Woodlands senior living facility in Ocean Pines. Among them was fellow centenarian Barbara Palmer, who turned 100 on March 15.
“She’s a good companion,” Palmer said.
Born in the Pittsburgh area in 1920, Ross said she is a transplant to the Eastern Shore.
“My dad had a small restaurant on the north side of Pittsburgh, and I’m the oldest of six children,” she said. “They are all gone except my brother Bill, who lives in the Pines.”
Ross said she graduated high school in Pittsburgh and married her husband on Dec. 6, 1941, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Together, Ross and her husband raised four children. She then worked as a pre-school teacher for 20 years.
The Rosses lived in Salisbury for more than two decades before purchasing a home in Ocean Pines in the late 1990s. Her husband passed away nearly two years later.
“We were married for 57 years,” she said. “He was the best.”
But Ross said she is not alone. Today, she has eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She noted the family came to visit her this year to celebrate her 100th birthday.
“I’ve had a happy, fun life,” she said.
Four years ago, Ross moved to The Woodlands, where she became friends with her fellow centenarian. Palmer, an Oregon native, moved to the Eastern Shore in 1994 to be closer to her daughter. She’s lived at The Woodlands for the last 10 years.
“You go where your children are,” she joked.
Palmer recalled her earlier years living on the west coast, where her family farmed. After high school, Palmer attended a year of college at the University of Oregon before moving on to secretarial school. In 1941, she moved to San Francisco to work for her aunt.
“I was her secretary and receptionist,” she said. “I worked for her a couple years, then I worked for Southern Pacific for a few years. Finally, I worked for General Foods.”
She also recalled the years surrounding World War II. Palmer married her first husband, Bob Palmer, on Dec. 16, 1941 before he joined the war effort.
“He was a prisoner of war for three and a half years, and I thought he was dead,” she said. “So I met somebody else.”
But soon after, Palmer learned her husband was alive. At the urging of her family, however, she divorced him and married her fiancé, Bob Kunhardt.
“It took me two years to get my head right,” she said. “I always felt guilty, naturally.”
When her marriage to Kunhardt ended more than two decades later, Palmer reconnected with her first husband. They then moved to the Eastern Shore to be closer to her family. Today, she boasts about her two children, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Although they may be the oldest residents at The Woodlands, both Ross and Palmer enjoy active lifestyles. They continue to join in the daily games and activities, and Palmer tries to walk a half mile each day within the facility.
When asked the secret to their longevity, Ross offered three words.
“Everything in moderation,” she said.