104 years of black coffee and dark chocolate

By on January 18, 2018

Dorothy Cushman, a lifelong Lititz resident and current resident at United Zion in Warwick Township, turned 104 on Jan. 16.

Dorothy Cushman turned 104 on Tuesday January 16, 2018.

The United Zion Retirement Community resident says the secret to living so long is “black coffee, dark chocolate, and Jesus.”

And, she added, “If someone asks you to do something, go do it.”

Dorothy was born on Jan. 16, 1914, at the Sturgis House in Lititz. She was baptized when she was 14 days old, and confirmed when she was 14 years at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ. She has remained a faithful member of that congregation ever since.

She has vivid memories of her childhood. She recalls playing with bantam chickens with her younger sister Ruth, roller-skating, and getting out of school to witness one of the first airplanes to fly over Lititz.

Her first job was in a shirt factory that was owned by her parents, S. O. Heisley Boy’s Shirts and Blouses. Working in the factory sparked a lifelong interest in sewing, and Dorothy participated in the Lititz Rotary Craft Show for many years, beginning in 1979, selling Barbie Doll clothes she’d sewn. Additionally, she sewed shirts and dish clothes.

Her favorite TV programs were the Jack Benny Show, which aired from 1950 to 1965, and the Lawrence Welk Show, 1951 to 1971.

She married at the age of 21 to J. E. Russell Markert and has three children, five grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

Dorothy was born in the former Sturgis House, a hotel that operated at the corner of East Main Street and Sturgis Lane. The building, which for many years housed the Lititz Theatre, is still there today.

Dorothy was always known for inviting the mailman in for lunch, and her willingness to pick up hitchhikers whenever she and her family were traveling in their mobile home.

She was a member of the Women’s Guild at St. Luke’s and served on the Old Zion Board. She remains a member of the Lancaster County Bird Club.

Aging is inevitable, but Dorothy lives each day to the fullest. In the 1980s, she took her first hot air balloon ride, and when she turned 90 she rode a motorcycle for the first time.

When she was 98, still living independently, she slipped and broke her back. She had to wear a brace, which she named “George,” and came to live at United Zion Retirement Community, where she has resided since. She is visited frequently by her adoring daughters and other family members.

“Just live one day at a time,” is her advice.

Aubree Fahringer is a staff writer for the Record Express and Ephrata Review. She can be reached at afahringer@lnpnews.com.

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