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“ – for Dec. 8, 2008

I feel privileged to have lived so long.” This sums up how Florence Storch feels about a lifetime which began the year which marked the opening of the first coast-to-coast highway in the States, the year Henry Ford introduced the assembly line and the year the first crossword puzzle was published. In the ensuing years through peace and war, Florence Storch has witnessed so much. She has not been just an onlooker but has, and is, living life to the fullest. Mother, church, W. I. and community member, gardener and most recently medal winner at the Seniors’ Games at Dieppe, New Brunswick are all part of her repertoire. I should also mention that she is a crafter of knives!

In 2007 with the provincial games in the offing, there were no competitors in the javelin-throwing category in her zone. When an organizer asked who would enter this category, Florence responded, “I will.” Whenever possible, her son Leslie who lives nearby, coached her in the art of throwing a javelin.

She came in fourth in the 75-and-older category in the 2007 provincial games at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. The senior games’ board notified her that this standing entitled her to compete in the 85-and-older category at the national level as the quota for contestants was not filled.

This spirited lady decided to attend. The 2008 Seniors’ Games were held, in Dieppe, New Brunswick in August.

To help finance the trip, Florence sold her produce at the farmers’ market in Hanna. She is quick to give credit to all who help her. For many years neighbour Bob Bessler has done a “wonderful job” of rototilling her garden. Her son Leslie packs the car, and she’s away to set up at the farmers’ market.

She says, “I just sell it,” but the neatly packaged vegetables and lovely flowers tell us that she has done more than that.

A member of Dundee W. I. since 1958, Florence has held every office at the local level. She also entered many handicraft and baking categories at conferences. W. I. had to create a new category when she learned the craft of knife building from son Edward.

As an active member of the community, Florence received support from many sources. The local IGA paid for her airplane ticket, the Hanna Herald helped; many groups and individuals supported her. When the owners of Just Pies, the business which hosts the weekly farmers’ market, put out a donation jar to help fund Florence’s trip, more than $150 was contributed.

At Dieppe, Florence was the only contestant over 85 in the track and field events. She competed against a lady 13 years her junior.

The javelin used in the games by the women is seven feet long weighing 400 grams. Regulations state that this spear must land point first and each contestant must complete six throws. As Florence was the only contestant in the 95-plus category she was awarded gold. She also received the silver in the 85-plus category.

Florence is modest about all her achievements. When complimented on her gardening, she replies, “I’ve had a lot of years to learn.”

Wonderful health, a great attitude, work, the support of family, friends and neighbours all contribute to her vigorous life. She feels that genetic makeup is an important determiner of health but emphasizes the importance of staying active and eating properly. She advocates using as little water as possible in cooking vegetables in order to retain the vitamins and minerals that are so essential to health.

After seeing this remarkable 95-year-old busy at the farmers’ market, I use a minimum of water in vegetable cooking.

Brenda Dowell writes from Trochu, Alberta

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