Mrs. Lois Kelly is a “super senior” and is a portrait of positive aging having lived life to its fullest for the past 102 years. As you read the following essay, you will understand why this very special lady is my nomination for the 2010 Covenant Platinum Award.
Mrs. Kelly retired from her career as an elementary teacher at the age of 63. With a twinkle in her eye, she tells me that in those days teachers were usually not able to remain in the classroom for that long but they made a special exception for her. During her early years of teaching, she married a young man who chose to attend dental school following his military service. Knoxville became their home and Dr. Kelly began his dental practice.
Upon retiring from teaching, Mrs. Kelly began her second career as Office Manager for her husband’s dental practice until 1994 at which time she was 84 and the practice closed. During her second career, she became active in the community. She taught Sunday School and sang in the choir while also serving as a Deacon. Although she has not been able to be as active in her church for the past 5 years, she continues to attend each Sunday.
It was during the time following her retirement from teaching, that she saw the need in her community to provide transportation for medical care and errands for those who had no resources. She continued this volunteer mission until her 100th birthday when she felt that it would be best if she did not “carry” people in her car. Many of the referrals that she received for transportation came through her church and the local community. When asked how many people she had transported, she replied that she never kept track of the numbers or the miles – it was just something that she needed to do.
Mrs. Kelly continues to be an active member of the Zeta Phi Beta social sorority and held many offices in the organization including state treasurer. The sorority held a banquet in her honor for her 100th birthday and honored her by establishing the Lois Kelly Scholarship that will be awarded each year to a girl seeking a college degree in education. Through her affiliation with Chapter 85 of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Mrs. Kelly used her teaching experience as a volunteer tutor at the Boys and Girls Club. She also provided refreshments and programs at a local rehabilitation facility. She continues to attend AARP meetings but has found it necessary to limit her involvement in the community.
The local Retired Teacher’s Association has benefited from Mrs. Kelly’s time and energy since her retirement from teaching. She held many offices and supported legislation to support high standards for teachers. She continues to be a member of the Association and attends meeting on a regular basis.
When Mrs. Kelly was 86 years of age, her mother became unable to care for herself. Dr. And Mrs. Kelly arranged for her to move into their home and Mrs. Kelly was her primary caregiver until her death.
During the years when Mrs. Kelly was growing up, there were very few opportunities for her to participate in sports. She does describe her passion for the University of Tennessee Girls Basketball team, tennis when the Williams sisters are playing, and golf with Tiger Woods. Although she does not participate in organized sports, she is very much involved in staying active and physically fit. She continues to attend exercise classes twice weekly at the O’Connor Senior Center and contributes her good health and longevity to exercise, walking, and keeping busy.
Bridge became her passion many years ago and she continues to play with her club twice weekly. She sees this as an excellent way to keep her mind working while enjoying the companionship of her friends. She laughingly tells me that she had to give up her book club but will continue to pay bridge as long as she can hold the cards.
Friends continue to be a central part of her life, and several times a week, they meet for lunch and often attend community events together.
Since her 65th birthday, Mrs. Kelly continued working for another 19 years; was a caregiver for her mother; provided volunteer transportation for medical care and errands; served her church as a Sunday School teacher, a member of the choir, and a Deacon; held local and state offices in her sorority, AARP, and Retired Teachers Association; supported and attended UT sports and community arts programs; maintained her physical stamina by attending exercise classes and walking and continued her passion for bridge by playing twice weekly. Today, at 102 years of age, Mrs. Kelly continues to live independently, drive her car, attend exercise classes, play bridge, and participate in many community activities. She is a “super senior” and a picture perfect nominee for the 2010 Covenant Platinum Award.