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"Old" Women who Make History
Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on March 24th, 2016

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"Old" Women who Make History

Aging & Caregiving

“Age is just a number.” There’s no better embodiment of this sentiment than the examples of countless individuals from all walks of life who have been undeterred by getting older. In honor of Women’s History Month this March, we’re shining the spotlight on three women who didn’t let their age stop them from doing amazing things.


flo-meiler1.jpg1. Flo Meiler

Imagine not only taking up a sport at age 65, but having that sport be pole vault? A former Olympic tennis player, Meiler now holds the world indoor record for women over the age of 75 in pole vault. And if that’s not enough, she‘s also set world records in the 60-meter hurdles, 4x100 meter relay, steeplechase, discus, the 200-meter hurdles and the hammer throw. All in all, this adds up to 12 U.S. records and 15 world records -- not too shabby for a great-grandmother.

Meiler's words of inspiration to the rest of us? “I keep telling (seniors) that it's never too late. If I can take up track and field at 60, anybody can take up another sport at age 50 and up."

Read more at: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/19/health/flo-meiler-senior-games/ 
(Photo courtesy of CCN.com)


harriett-lake.jpg2. Harriet Lake

She may be in her 90s, but Harriet Lake, AKA the “Grand Dame of Central Florida Philanthropy,” is a true force of nature when it comes to changing the world through her philanthropy. Lake writes checks, donates money, and volunteers her time to hundreds of diverse causes ranging from the arts to trauma centers. Lake's journey to becoming one of the country's most giving women is not a typical one. After living through the Great Depression and joining the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserves as a 20-year-old, she eventually inherited a fortune after her husband's death.

She now says, “Ever since then I've been trying to give it away as fast as I can to my own 189 charities and hospitals.” And she insists that she'll continue to do so for as long as she lives. Why? Because, she continues, “Somebody has to do it."

Read more at: http://dc.ocls.info/memory/topic/harriett-lake-oral-history-interview
(Photo courtesy of Orlando Memory)


laura-wilder.jpg3. Laura Ingalls Wilder

We’re all familiar with the fascinating stories of Laura Ingalls, her family, and their lives together on the prairie back in the late 1800s. But did you know that Wilder didn’t even publish the first "Little House" book until she was 65? The now-legendary series has sold more than 41 copies in the U.S.; been published in more than 40 languages; inspired a stage musical and television show; and launched a love of reading and history in countless American children. And it all began at the age when most people are retiring. 


Read more at: http://shs.umsystem.edu/historicmissourians/name/w/wilder/

(Photo courtesy of The State Historical Society of Missouri)

Ultimately, whether you take up track and field, start volunteering your time or money, pen a novel, or explore one of many other ways to make a difference in the world around you, the takeaway is clear: It’s never too late. Who knows? Maybe sharing these stories with an aging loved one of your own will offer the incentive they need to try something new or fulfill their own lifelong dream. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”


Key Takeaways

  • For inspiring women throughout history and all over the world, aging doesn't mean a lack of action.
  • While these three women may have achieved fame and fortune, others make a difference every single day, even without recognition of any kind.
  • Even the smallest step towards a goal or dream can be life-changing for seniors.


About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.