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Centenarian says she'd 'gladly do it all again'

  • SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Dorothy Holmgren accepts a citation from PA State Rep. Mick Carroll, in recognition of her 100th birthday.
    SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Dorothy Holmgren accepts a citation from PA State Rep. Mick Carroll, in recognition of her 100th birthday.
Published June 18. 2012 05:03PM

Dorothy Moore Holmgren of Kunkletown, born May 6, 1912, recently celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends at a party hosted by her daughter and son-in-law, Mary Anne and Bill Clausen at their Kunkletown home.

Nearly 100 guests attended, including Dorothy's four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, coming from all over the United States. One guest even stopped by on his way home from China.

Sixteen young ones enjoyed splashing in the brook, doing all the outdoor things their parents enjoyed as children at the Kunkletown farm Dorothy and her sister Eleanor purchased in 1947. The summer home is now Dorothy's permanent residence.

State Rep. Mike Carroll attended and presented a citation to Dorothy, marking the occasion.

Dorothy was the youngest of two daughters of Dr. George Moore, a dentist, and Elizabeth, a teacher, in Brooklyn, N.Y. She graduated at the top of her class from James Madison High School in New York and Adelphi College where she majored in liberal arts/English.

Her first week of her freshman year was in September 1929 when the stock market crashed. Out of a class of 300, only 100 remained, of which Dorothy was one. She commuted to her classes and was given 25 cents a day for expenses. She spent five cents each way on the subway and spent the rest for her lunch.

She edited her college yearbook and participated in musical productions. Her senior year she joined Tri Delta, a prestigious sorority. She graduated at the top of her class in 1933.

Her first job was as secretary to the head of the engineering school at Pratt Institute. She earned $108 a month.

"Out of all my classmates, I was the highest paid. The others only got $25 a week," she says.

After 10 years, Dorothy then became a secretary to Louise Carnegie, the wife of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American industrialist, considered to be the second richest man in American history and a great philanthropist. His wife continued with his philanthropy after his death.

Dorothy worked at the 64-room mansion at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue in Manhattan from 1941-45.

Dorothy cannot remember what she was paid or even if it was in cash or by check.

"It was all so inconsequential compared to my experiences there," she says of the philanthropic work.

Dorothy volunteered as an Air Warden during World War II.

"I don't know how much it helped defense, but it made everyone feel like they were doing something patriotic."

Dorothy married Eric Holmgren in 1942. He was an engineer and headed the Port Authority automotive department. They were married 54 years until his death. They had two children, a son, Edward (Ted) and a daughter, Mary Anne.

She devoted herself to family and volunteer work, including helping to establish a community library in Tinton Falls, N.J., where they lived for many years.

She also worked with the Scholarship Committee of the Monmouth Arts Foundation.

Recently Dorothy fell and broke her hip on her way to a grand-niece's birthday party. She is recuperating at Pleasant Valley Manor where she says everyone has been just wonderful to her and has been very well attended to.

Dorothy's advice to young people today is to be aware of drugs, make the most of their education and follow a good diet. She enjoys eating fresh vegetables but admits to liking chocolate.

To what does Dorothy attribute her longevity?

"Good genes and always being thin. Also, no one reaches 100 years old without suffering some losses. You need to get by them and find new things to be interested and involved in."

After 100 years of living Dorothy says, "I'd gladly do it all again."

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