Resident Profile

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99 Years Old & Still On a Roll — Meet Bessie Rinehart

Bessie Rinehart has lived at the Widows Home since January 2010, but before that, she spent 62 years of her life traveling around the country (and Canada) bowling. Of course, that’s not all she did—she raised five kids that she says have all “turned out good” and worked for 17 years as a cook in a Dayton-area restaurant—but bowling has always been her favorite pastime. So when Bessie recently celebrated her 99th birthday, naturally, she wanted to celebrate by going bowling.

As part of our on-site activities, our residents frequently get the chance to bowl using a plastic bowling set, but for her birthday, Bessie wanted to do the real thing. Coordinating the outing with Gem City Home Care, we took Bessie and her family and friends to a local bowling alley where she was set up with a special device to help her bowl from her wheelchair. Back in her heyday, Bessie’s high score was 232, and while she didn’t quite reach that mark, she was still satisfied with how she bowled on her birthday. Bessie talks about her years bowling in tournaments with the same enthusiasm that earned her several trophies, including one for Dayton’s All City Bowling Tournament that she keeps in her room at the Widows Home. She still describes the pleated white dresses that she and her teammates wore as uniforms when they represented Jim Flynn’s sporting goods store as if she just got hers back from the dry cleaner yesterday. “I used to always hold my ball in a towel so I didn’t get my dress dirty,” she says.

Bessie enjoys living at the Widows Home, and stays busy by playing bingo, getting her hair done, and participating in social activities with the other residents. She says that the Widows Home is a “very nice place with very good help and service.” Bessie attributes her longevity to a life of “clean living,” but she splurges from time to time by enjoying her favorite meal: shrimp with filet mignon, noting that, “the filet mignon has to be butterflied…that’s how I like it.”

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