Seymour woman feted on 100th birthday

A Seymour woman celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends Saturday at a Seymour nursing home and spoke humbly about the occasion.

“I don’t know that anything we did was remarkable. It was just clear, plain living,” Doris Loper said of the life she lived with her husband, William E. “Bill” Loper, until he died June 30, 2005, at the age of 84.

Besides living to 100, which is pretty remarkable in itself, Doris and Bill raised three children, Tom Loper of Terre Haute, Jerry Loper of Norman and Nancy Edmonds of Hanover. In turn, those three children gave Bill and Doris nine grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Doris drove until she was about 94 — something she said she doesn’t miss — and only moved to Lutheran Community Home on the south side of Seymour about four years ago.

Bill and Doris were born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“The funny story is they grew up on the same block,” granddaughter Stephanie Maschino said.

“… and brother and sister married brother and sister,” Misty Wilson, another granddaughter, said. “He came from a bigger family, and she had two brothers.”

Bill and Doris Bellack married Jan. 1, 1948, and moved to a farm in northeastern Jackson County not too long afterwards, Jerry Loper said.

“My grandfather bought 100 acres in Reddington,” he said of the reason his dad and one of his brothers moved to Jackson County.

“My dad wanted to farm and have a big farmhouse. Can you imagine being raised in Milwaukee in a big city what life was like there?” Jerry said.

Bill, who served in the U.S. Air Force in Africa during World War II, went to farm school, and his passion was to be a farmer, but Jerry said he didn’t think his mother liked that lifestyle.

In 1950, Tom Loper was born, and then Jerry was born in 1952, followed by Nancy in 1958.

Jerry said the family didn’t stay too long on the farm before moving to Seymour shortly before he was born.

“She (his mom) didn’t like the snakes and just the country and that isolation,” he said. “So they bought a place in Little Acres, which is 5 miles north of Seymour.”

The family lived in a little house there until Jerry was in fourth grade in about 1962 before moving to the south side of Seymour near Lake Leslie, he said.

After moving closer to the city, Bill worked at a bakery and then went to work at the U.S. Post Office. He retired from there in 1962 after 24 years of delivering mail, Jerry said.

“He was well loved around the city of Seymour,” Jerry said. “He was a wingman and filled in for all the guys when they would be on vacation, so he knew every address. He was as sharp as a button.”

Doris worked for Beatty Insurance for about three decades. That came after she spent time working for what was then known as the Jackson County United Fund.

“That was when that whole program was getting started,” Jerry said. “That was one of her first jobs in Seymour.”

Doris moved to Beatty Insurance, then known as Hobbs Miller Insurance, because it was just an opportunity for her, Jerry said.

“I was probably a sophomore or junior when she went there,” Jerry said.

The Lopers attended First United Methodist Church in Seymour for a long, long time, he said.

“For about five or six years, she went to Norman Christian Church with us,” Jerry said.

He said his mother went on a mission trip with about a dozen people from the church to Honduras in 1999 and outworked everyone who went. She was 76 at the time.

“It was amazing. We had the greatest time,” Jerry said.

He attributes his mother being able to live to 100 as a testament to a strong will and a little bit of just taking care of herself and always going for checkups and telling the doctor exactly how she felt.

“She is pretty headstrong,” Jerry said. “I think good genes. I had a great-grandmother who lived to 100 on her mom’s side. She’s going to shoot for 105. That’s what I think.”

Doris said she isn’t sure about that but answered yes when asked if healthy living played a role in her living to 100.

“She always kept busy,” Wilson said.

Jerry said his mother is very artistic.

“She loves to knit and quilt and sew,” he said. “Those were a passion for her for many, many years.”

Jerry said she just gave those things and stained glass pieces she was good at making away as gifts.

Bill and Doris also squared dance and were in a camper club.

Jerry said his mother has always read The Tribune faithfully, too.

“If she knew anybody, she would clip it out and give it to people she loved,” he said. “She is very aware and caring of other people. I think that’s one of her best traits — her generosity. She was born during the Depression, and that was a big thing for her.”

Jerry said his mom also is an avid reader and loves the library.

“That is so important to her,” he said.