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5 Incredible Old Women Who Are Awesome at Life

Age is just a number, and for these inspiring older ladies, life is just an adventure.

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The Daredevil: 102-Year-Old Dorothy Custer

Dorothy Custer is the oldest living person in Twin Falls, ID, which also makes her the oldest person to leap off a bridge 500 feet above the Snake River. Because this is how Custer spent her 102nd birthday. Most of us go to brunch; Custer parachuted off a bridge. Custer said she “never thought of age” throughout her life, just being alive—and loving it. Some of her other publicized exploits include riding an elephant , playing harmonica on The Tonight Show, and considering whether to give Larry The Cable Guy “a few hard hits” for good measure. Oh—and if you aren’t following any 102-year-olds on Twitter, you can change that now.

Quotable Quote: “I never thought of age. I just went on living and having a good time.”

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The Athlete: 79-Year-Old Flo Meiler

Formerly a Senior Olympics tennis player, Flo Meiler took up track and field at age 60. At 65, she tried the pole vault for the first time. Now, a little over a decade later, Meiler has competed in the Nation Senior Games 13 times, holds 15 world records, and 12 U.S. records for women in her age group. “One-hundred meter, the 200 meter, the shot put, the discus, the high jump, the long jump, the triple jump, the hammer, the pole vault…” Meiler’s list of accomplishments goes on—perhaps the most dear to her being her entry into great-grandma-dom. How many records does YOUR great grandma hold? Maybe none yet, but Meiler will tell her there’s still plenty of time.

Quotable Quote: “I keep telling (seniors) that it’s never too late. If I can take up track and field at 60, anybody can take up another sport at age 50 and up.”

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The Yogi: 92-Year-Old Bernice Bates

In the zen comfort of Bernice Bates’ yoga class, there is a mantra: “I can’t do that—YET.” Optimism is mandatory when watching Bates twist, flex, and flatten her body into shapes most healthy thirtysomethings can’t even replicate. On a whim, Bates began teaching herself yoga in 1960. Now, at 92, she holds a spot in the Guinness Book of Word Records as the oldest certified yogi on Earth. While teaching free lessons to residents of her Florida retirement home, Bates inspires would-be benders decades younger than her by living one simple philosophy: As long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to love your body.

Quotable Quote: “We’re the only living thing on Earth that has the body that we do—that can think, can do, can cry, can talk. We should take care of it.”

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The Opera Star: 101-Year-Old Marta Eggerth

If you recognize this Hungarian centenarian’s voice, it’s likely because it has appeared in more than 40 films in five different languages, and countless original opera recordings. Marta Eggerth emerged from Hungary during the “Silver Age of Operetta” in the 1920s, and is still singing today at 101 years old. The trick, she says, is obvious. “I never gave it up. I kept the voice, as they say, alive.”

Quotable Quote: “People ask me, How is it to be 100? I say, I don’t know. I have no standard of comparison. You must ask me when I am 200 what it was like to be 100, and then I will be able to tell you.” (via

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The Philanthropist: 91-Year-Old Harriet Lake

Full-time philanthropist Harriet Lake writes checks to 200 local charities every year, donating millions of dollars from her own pocket—so much, in fact, that 20 buildings and parks in central Florida now bear her name. When not giving, Lake is collecting. “I can’t resist beautiful clothes,” she admits. Lake owns thousands of garments—vintage and modern—that she stores in a dense closet with a conveyor belt that she once saw in a movie. She also uses her three-car garage as a secondary closet, and pays for 5,000 square feet of warehouse storage space to fit her growing collection. Despite all the excess in her life, Lake says it’s still the littlest things that bring her the most joy.

Quotable Quote: “A basic black dress which you can buy at COSTCO for 18 bucks will take you anywhere.”

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Brandon Specktor

…My Wonderful 101-Year-Old-Grandma

This post must end with a shout-out to my own great-grandmother, Me Me, who celebrated her one-hundredth birthday last year by bringing her whole family to a party on Orcas Island. Century-old smiles are truly a beautiful thing.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest