Langley woman going strong into second century

She may live on the Langley-Surrey border, but Langley definitely claims Dorscie Paterson as one of its own. 

At 102 years old, Paterson is the picture of an active senior: living independently, volunteering, and even driving. 

Some might expect Paterson to slow down and take it easy, at this point in her life, but she would likely refer to that kind of thinking as nonsense. 

“You never can tell the future,” Paterson said recently in a chat with the Langley Advance. “Just do it. If something comes along, just do it. Don’t spend time nattering about it.”

Clearly Paterson is a doer. She and her now deceased husband David moved to Langley about 30 years ago and built the home she still lives in, with her daughter and son-in-law occupying another floor. 

When asked if building a home and changing communities was daunting for a pair of 70-odd-year-olds, she replied, “No, why should it be?”

Paterson continues to approach life in this same active way, regardless of what she’s up to. 

She still volunteers with the Langley Hospice Society – an organization she helped create – where she works with the society’s communications and funds development manager, Shannon Todd Booth.

Todd Booth describes Paterson as “one in a million.”

“Her energy and quick wit would put people half her age to shame,” Todd Booth said. “She is passionate about her role with the Langley Hospice Society and puts her heart and soul into everything she does.”

Hospice began at a kitchen table not long after Paterson became part of the community. 

“We sat at [Jeannine McCarthy’s] kitchen table,” Paterson said. “It’d be 30 years ago. She [McCarthy] was the one who had the idea.”

Paterson does palliative support at the hospice residence and even spent time with the late Sylver McLaren, who was a reporter for The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows TIMES, sister paper to the Advance. 

“We were great friends from [the first meeting] on,” Paterson said of McLaren. “I’ve put in 31 years of palliative care. It’s fascinating.”

When asked why the hospice continues to be so important to her, Paterson replied simply, “Well, I built my life around it. Some people can do it, some can’t.”

Paterson describes the process of working with those in palliative care as walking into a room with your “antennae up.”

“You look at their face and their eyes and their body movements,” she said. 

“It doesn’t care,” she said of disease and death and how it chooses where to set up. “It’s like the corn on my foot. It doesn’t care.”

Corn or not, Paterson still continues to exercise regularly. She noted she does deep knee bends while waiting for something in the microwave, or will do leg lifts while the TV is on. 

“I exercise all the time,” she added.

This busy lady has functions noted on nearly every day of her calendar. She’s active with Beta Sigma Phi Langley, the local chapter of the international women’s friendship network and continues to go to church every Sunday.

All this positivity comes naturally to Paterson. Her mother was incredibly progressive and ran her own business in North Vancouver. She was also one of the first two women on the chamber of commerce in that community. 

Periodically Paterson will pick up her art materials and create something. 

“Every once in a while I get the itch for it,” she said.

It’s easy for Langley to be thankful that Paterson and her husband chose the community for their retirement.

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