Eat healthy food and stay thin may obviously be the first thing you need to know about how to live to be 100, but observe a centurion and one secret seems to be consistent, which is to live life to the fullest. Matoaca resident, Dorothy Stewart McElhaney is not jumping around, but continues to enjoy life to the fullest considering she is making preparations to celebrate her 102nd birthday with a party surrounded by family, friends and neighbors.
“I think I have had a pretty good life,” said McElhaney. “I have had good care and Glenna’s (her daughter) been good to me. “I can’t complain about anything in my life.” McElhaney lives with her daughter, Glenna Kramer, in a two-story home overlooking Lake Chesdin. She and her late husband of 56 years, Glenn McElhaney, moved to Virginia in 1981 to be close to their only daughter who had a business in the area.
After his death and when McElhaney was ready, Kramer convinced her mom to move in with her and her family. “She is in good health,” said Kramer. “And she has a great love for bacon and butter. We eat lots of butter here and lots of bacon.”
McElhaney smiles with the mention of bacon and butter, and said she’s got to have her bacon and butter. She also enjoys chocolate and an occasional gin and tonic and says the best part of the day is when her daughter fixes her dinner. “I don’t want to miss the real meal she fixes,” she said. “She is a very good cook.” Dinner usually consists of a meat and at least three vegetables. “I try to have everything fresh,” said Kramer. “And at least three vegetables on the plate.”
McElhaney grew up on a farm and always had fresh vegetables.
Along with eating well, McElhaney has a morning and afternoon nap and exercises by climbing the set of stairs to the second floor twice a day. She goes on outings that include a weekly visit to the hairdresser and a bi-weekly manicure and pedicure.
When she was 99, McElhaney fell and broke her hip but recovered fully and continues to take no medicine. Whenever she visits the doctor and he suggests a medicine to try, she says no. She still enjoys perfect health except for poor vision.
McElhaney was born November 15, 1910. She is the great-granddaughter of John Ray, whose homestead became known as Bloody Hill and is part of a National battlefield park. The bloodiest battle of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River was fought in his cornfield at the Battle of Wilson Creek. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon was killed and laid to rest in John Ray’s home until the battle subsided and his body could be moved to Springfield, Missouri. McElhaney grew up on that 300-acre farm in Battlefield, Missouri that is now the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.
Before her eyesight began fading, McElhaney enjoyed cooking, sewing, gardening and was an accomplished artist. Her sugar cookies won a blue ribbon at the county fair when she was 99. McElhaney said she misses painting the most and would like to try again thinking she could paint from memory. Her memory is sharp and is just as fashionable as her daughter. McElhaney said she has thought about why she has been able to enjoy a long life, “I have thought about it – why I am still here,” she said. “I guess I can’t go until the good Lord says so.”
Her prescription for good health may not be everyone’s, but it’s proven to be right for her. Happy Birthday Dorothy Stewart McElhaney.