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100 years of wisdom

Vin Dougherty looks back



This weekend, on Jan. 24, Vin Dougherty joins a rather exclusive club as she celebrates her 100th birthday.

Dougherty moved to Pemberton from England 10 years ago to be closer to her children and grandchildren, and will move to Whistler soon to be even closer. She's in good health, apart from some vision problems in one eye and the fact that she recently went deaf. She also had some surgery for issues with her hips, but before that she used to join her family for picnics on Whistler Mountain.

She still plays bridge, takes part in monthly potluck lunches with other Pemberton seniors, she's handy with knitting and crochet needles and she likes to read. Her quality of life, according to her granddaughter Rhona Walker, is nothing short of amazing for someone who is a century old. "Mentally, she is 100 per cent with it and on the ball, and she gets so much enjoyment out of her life," said Walker.

For turning 100, she recently received certificates and letters of congratulation from the Prime Minister, Governor General and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell. A certificate from the Queen of England is also on its way, although if newspaper reports are any indication Queen Elizabeth II is busy with wedding plans for Prince William.

Because Dougherty is hearing impaired, Walker asked Pique to email some questions which she then showed to her grandmother. The idea was to get away from the usual centenarian interview that is all about "what's your secret," and see what we could learn from one of our eldest elders.

Pique: So what's your secret?

Dougherty: "Be happy, don't worry."

Pique: What are some of the changes that stand out for you, and what do we take for granted?

Dougherty: "Transportation." She remembers "seeing the first steam train running from Shildon to Darlington." Taken for granted? "Plenty of clothes and food. Hot water, showers, electricity."

Pique: What was family life like for you growing up, and what are we maybe missing out on?

Dougherty: "No television. (We come up with our) own amusement and went out as a family."

Pique: What was your experience in the war?

Dougherty: "Lots of air raid warnings, hiding under the dining room table, rations - two eggs, two ounces of margarine, two ounces of beef per week. Making clothes for Verna (daughter) during the war from unwanted material or older clothes.

Pique: You still like to read. Who are your favourite authors from the last century?

Dougherty: David Attenborough (BBC Nature), Catherine Cookson.

Pique: What's your favourite saying?

Dougherty: "Never put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today" and "Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves."

Pique: I understand that you've had some recent issues with your hearing, but what was your favourite music from the last 100 years?

Doughtery: Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

Pique: What advice would you give younger people?

Dougherty: "Be considerate and thoughtful."

Pique: These days we're obsessed with the economy, but you lived through the Great Depression in England, which was considered worse and longer than the one in North America. What advice would you give people worrying about money?

Dougherty: "Waste not, want not," and "Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves."

Pique: What are some things you like about Canada, and what are some things you miss?

Dougherty : "Very friendly people, especially the Pemberton seniors. Wonderful scenery, mountains, snow and sunshine. What do I miss? Nothing!"