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Hard work has pushed Doris Smith to reach her 102nd birthday

November 19, 2010
By Terri Kelly Barta

Doris Smith was born near Drake, at the turn of the last century, and didn't move to the Haaland Home in Rugby until she was 99 years old. Last Wednesday, November 17, she turned 102 years old.

She credits the hard work she did all her life as a key to her longevity.

"Hard work never hurt anyone," said Smith.

Born in 1908, Doris Speers Smith said she began doing farm chores at a young age. She harnessed the horses every day. Work began about 5:00 a.m. She helped with everything that needed to be done.

"I could do everything the men could do, use the machinery, take care of the animals, harness the horses, and put up hay," said Smith. "That old pitchfork, I knew how to use it," she added with a smile at the recollection.

"Dad gave us each a horse to ride," recalls Smith. "We rode them bareback at a very young age."

Horseback riding was one activity she enjoyed for a good part of her life.

Smith remembers that there was a lake with a swimming area just 1/2 mile from the family's farm home. "We walked down there every evening to swim."

Something that was unusual for women during the second decade of the 1900s was furthering their education after high school. Smith graduated from Drake High School. Following high school, she attended and graduated from business school in Bismarck around the latter-1920s. She worked for the Minneapolis Moline Power and Implement Company after finishing her schooling. She also continued to work for her dad on the family farm.

She met a handsome man with kind eyes named Norman Smith and on July 23, 1931, they were married. She moved with him to a farm and they raised five children together. The children are Mary Lou, Monna May, Marjorie, Colleen, and Murdick Norman, the only boy. Murdick is a family name. Eventually, Murdick was called Bud for a nickname. Four of the five children live in or near Towner with the exception of Colleen who lives in Arizona. The Smiths had 14 grandchildren, over 30 great- grandchildren and 16 great -great- grandchildren.

Smith has seen many inventions in 102 years. She said she never has had a computer but there were other things to keep her busy.

With five children to raise, Smith said, "It was certainly nice to get a washing machine (when they came out)." The first ones had a gas motor, her family recalls.

In later years, she got a rest from her labors as she and Norman went to Arizona for several months each winter from 1962-1992. There they enjoyed hiking on Superstition Mountain.

"We did something new every day," said Smith remembering how much she enjoyed their winter treks to Arizona. She thinks that is one of the reasons she lived so long. That and the fact that, "hard work is good for you."

Norman is no longer living, but the walls in her room at the Haaland Home are covered with pictures of her very large extended family. She is content knowing that she had everything she needed in her life. She especially values family and friends. She continues to read the paper and work crossword puzzles every day. She plays Bingo and is a lucky winner often enough.

"I have everything I could wish for," she smiled.



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