Life begins at 100: Former newspaper writer hits century mark
For Georgia Duff, the best is yet to come, and just like Sinatra, she’s sure that it will be fine.
“I’m looking forward to the next hundred,” said Duff from her home in Chelan on the day of birthday No. 100.
Duff, a former Post-Register writer in the 1960s, celebrated her completion of a 100th trip around the sun on Feb. 25, with a string of celebrations that included a visit from all four of her sons and a serenade from the music students at Chelan High School.
“We have been to so many birthday parties, it’s been party, party, party,” she said. “Wonderful.”
Duff, who describes 100 as feeling the same as if she were 60, credits a lifelong love affair with walking and with music as two big reasons why she was able to witness the arrival of the telephone and the smartphone.
“I have always been a walker,” she said. “When we were living in Wenatchee, I was teaching piano and I would walk across the bridge to East Wenatchee.”
The daughter and mother of a pianist, she still plays the piano herself and is the organist of her church, and she still walks a lot, although not much recently, due to the icy sidewalks.
She has outlived every classmate from the Wenatchee High School’s class of 1937, a class that included longtime Wenatchee World editor and publisher Wilfred R. Woods. She says she has outlived almost all her relatives, but she doesn’t let herself get too down about that.
“I have so many young friends,” she said. “It’s exciting.”
She also has four children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her children attended school in Quincy, and she lived in this city for about a decade and a half.
During her time in Quincy, she wrote for the Quincy Valley Post-Register, one of three papers she worked for, in addition to the Wenatchee World and the Columbia Basin Herald.
It was during her time as a scribe that she got the assignment her bosses described to her as “a little dangerous,” she remembered.
“I said, ‘I’ll go, what is it?’ ” And next thing she knew, she was en route to the state penitentiary in Walla Walla, where she met a young man of about 25. His name was Jerry and he wrote a newspaper of sorts for the men in prison.
“I said, ‘that’s great,’ ” Duff remembered. “ ‘Keeping yourself busy and learning. But may I ask you why are you here?’ ”
Jerry, it turns out, had killed his wife and his mother-in-law, and told Duff he would do it again.
“That’s how tough these fellas are,” she said, almost 60 years later.
After her time as a writer in central Washington, she moved to Tacoma, following her husband, an officer in the Air Force. She worked in radio and TV while on the west side, keeping busy “all the time,” she said.
A native of Deer Lodge, Mont., about an hour southwest of the capital city of Helena, Duff lost her husband in 1988, and that’s when she returned to Chelan, where her family had once owned property.
Duff never remarried, “not after having such a good husband,” she said. In the 30 years since, she only went on one date, two years after her husband’s death.
“He was absolutely disgusting,” she said of her one-time date.
With four children and a legion of friends around her, Duff is too busy to feel lonely. She’s hoping to visit friends in New York soon, and has advice for those entering the golden years.
“I would tell them to always have a positive attitude,” she said. “We all go through trials, and if we are going to let anything take us down or depress us, that is something they will never recover from. But if you have a positive attitude, you can accomplish anything.”
“Life is great, that’s all I can tell you,” she said. “Life is great.”
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org