“Looking to the future” is the secret to a long, happy life, says Dorothy Todd, New Centenary – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Dorothy Todd is not in favor of sitting out a dance.
When her 70th wedding anniversary arrived, she took her husband Tim’s hand and moved to the music. Adventure was calling and Todd wouldn’t miss a thing.
Dorothy Toon Todd was born on October 29, 1921 on an acre of land in Riverside. Her mother Bessie was a housewife and her father Lester owned a canning factory. The family of seven later moved to the San Fernando Valley, where Dot became such a good babysitter that she decided to become a nurse.
She worked at Huntington Memorial Hospital and attended Pasadena City College. Todd was 20 when World War II broke out. She enrolled in the US Army Nurse Corps. Her four brothers also served in the Navy and Air Force.
Todd sailed through the boot camp before boarding a ship for the Philippines. She remembers open-air hospitals and homemade tiki bars, washing clothes in vats and sitting on a tank.
“I loved how green everything was,” she said. And, she told her daughter, she wanted to be where the action was.
Todd traveled from Manila to Leyte, served briefly in Morotai, Indonesia, and rounded off her military service in Palawan. She photographed basic hospitals and everyday life in the tropics while caring for former prisoners of war.
The transport ship USS General WG Haan took her home in 1946, and Todd remembers watching the tower of the Golden Gate Bridge above her as the ship sailed below.
She was at home, and after her wartime adventure, Todd graduated from UCLA with a degree in public health in 1948. She lived with some friends in a house in Compton, the starting point of their escapades. They went skiing in Squaw Valley, took a mule down the Grand Canyon, and camped on the beach.
At a dance in 1950, she met Tim Todd, a great Ohio-born welder who attended Caltech and built planes in Long Beach during the war.
“We were in a group and I took him out of the party,” said Todd. They found that they were made to dance together.
The couple married in 1951, settled in La Puente and founded Sunnybrook Farms in La Puente. Their four children were born there: Rebecca, 67, from Diamond Bar; Tim, 66, also from Diamond Bar; Bill, 64, of Danville; and Alan, 63, from Rancho Cucamonga.
Todd planned meals to be taken off the shelves of her dairy and made lots of casseroles and puddings.
The family moved to Covina in the 1960s, and daughter Becky teases her mother, “What did you think a family of six would buy a two-bedroom house?” Her mother has an answer to that: “Bunk beds.”
he Todd kids said they were grateful their parents stayed in this house, with its sprawling orchard, rose garden and lighted terrace perfect for dancing.
“She made us live like we were on a farm,” said Rebecca. “We grew grain, we sold flowers on the corner, we sold boysenberries. She made chocolate breakfast shakes for us kids with cottage cheese, an egg, Bosco syrup, and milk. ”All four Todd children attended Covina Schools and graduated from South Hills High. Their mother never stopped studying with them.
While Tim was serving as the dairy inspector for San Bernardino County, Dorothy started home-based businesses when it wasn’t even a concept.
“She took up hobbies and earned money with them,” said her caretaker Cristina Ibarra.
Dorothy soon became an expert on flower arrangements and started a mini flower farm in the backyard. She did aerobics. As the children grew older she returned to nursing and served in Whittier Schools and the Tri-City Adult Schools.
Your grandchildren will remember her teaching them how to be smart with money.
“Grandfather planted the boysenberries, then we pick them,” said granddaughter Shannon Lambert of San Dimas. “We learned to count the change at the checkout and account for every box sold. And whatever we did, Grandma made sure we saved some of it. She taught me to balance a checkbook. “
Dorothy and Tim danced as long as they could. They also took computer classes at the San Dimas Senior Center. Your grandchildren remember taking candy-making classes at A&J Cake and Candy Supplies in Glendora.
Granddaughters Andrea Lavender, 42, from Devore, and Lauren Gleeson, 41, from San Luis Obispo love that their grandmother has always encouraged their imaginations.
“When my sister and I were young we pretended to be playing ‘business’. Grandma would keep her junk mail for us and even buy us briefcases. While our mother and grandma were working as flower designers in the summer, grandma let us design and create with the leftover flowers. “
Son Alan said his mother taught him to work hard, get out and enjoy life.
My favorite memory is seeing mom and her international dance group dance in their Italian costumes for Mario Andretti at the California Seedway, ”he said. “You made it unforgettable for fans and family alike.”
Granddaughter Amanda Andrews, 34, of Camarillo, said Todd’s greatest strengths were her independent mind, maternal nature, and keen intellect.
“(I remember) cooking together, from boysenberry syrup to chicken fricassee, helping her with the daily crossword puzzle, building tents in the cave, learning to crochet, learning to make fruit, tutoring me, learning how to make money with hard money Job.”
Todd survived breast cancer at the age of 80. Today she enjoys the view from her bed, where she can see the white camellias blooming in front of her window and hear the woodpeckers in spring.
She and her husband are still enjoying their ice cream, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and In N Out cheeseburgers and fries. Tim, 99, watches over his tomato, pepper, zucchini, apricot and plum harvest.
“She never complains,” said Carer Ibarra. “She’ll take what comes, and she’s a soldier.”
The Todd clan, including nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, marched to Covina on October 29 for Grandma’s 100th birthday.
They surrounded the birthday boy with photos and mementos from her adventurous life, including a gold lame suit that Dorothy wore to the Whittier Dance Club.
“Mom, I admire your spirit, your unconventional thinking and how you never stop,” said her daughter Becky, also a nurse.
For her part, the new centenarian said, “I don’t need any presents. I want company. “
She asks teasingly if the news of her milestone birthday will make her a big hit. Her family tells her it already is. Then someone asks what their secret is for such a long and happy life.
From the corner where she sits on her bed, bathed in sunlight and cooled by a breeze, Todd’s blue eyes dance as she thinks and smiles.
“Look to the future, always look to the future,” she said. At 100, Dorothy Todd still hears calls for adventure.
Anissa V. Rivera, Columnist, Mom’s the Word, Pasadena Star News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Whittier Daily News, Azusa Herald, Glendora Press, and West Covina Highlander, San Dimas / La Verne Highlander. Southern California News Group, 605 E. Huntington Drive, Suite 100, Monrovia, CA 91016. 626-497-4869.
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