The Best of…Prayer and Family Important to This Centurion

           Published April 2006, Pawtucket Times

           A life-long resident of Attleboro, Massachusetts, Blanche Dugas, who now resides at Canterbury Woods,  remembered the happy memories of raising her three children in a  home on 12th Street, right across from the City’sCaponPark. 

         Raising her family with a loving husband was the most important accomplishment in her life, she said           

         The 101 year old woman said her old neighborhood was a great place for the kids to grow up. “I would send them to the park with a lunch,” she said, shrugging her shoulders with the realization that the world today is not the world she grew up in. “You never worried about your children being picked up by strangers.”

         She would start her mornings off by talking to her mother who just so happened to have a kitchen window facing her.  You guessed it – Dugas built her house right next to her parent’s lot.

          Dugas also fondly talked about her 83-year-old husband who died in the early 1980s with dementia.  “We were very close,” she said, being very pleased that she was able to marry “such a good guy.”   

          Now Dugas reflects on her days before she got married at the ripe old age of 22.  During their nine month courtship Phillip Dugas would drive his Model T over 35 miles from Putnam,Connecticutto South Attleboroto her house to visit on Thursdays and Sundays.  Blanche would marry this young man, the one who she met atOcean Grove,Rhode Island.  With a good reputation for cutting meat, her husband opened up a small grocery store inDodgeville,Massachusetts.  His reputation brought in customers, allowing the store to thrive for fifty years. .  

          Dugas is proud to be the oldest person residing inSt. Joseph’s parish.  When she turned age 100 she received a medallion [which she wears all the time] from the Bishop of Fall River, along with a citation.  President and Laura Bush also recognized her milestone age, too.

        “God has been great to me,” she says, noting that he has left her with her “thinking, hearing, and eye sight.”  What else do you need to live, she says jokingly. She sees her longevity tied to living a good, clean life. 

         “They tell me that there must be a reason for me living such a long life.  I pray a lot for the residents of the assisted living facility and for her family,” Dugas says.  However, she is not a stronger to the power of prayer.  A priest once told her that if you wanted to live a long happy life, you pray together. “We did that in my family and also in my marriage.”  

          Herb Weiss is a Pawtucket-based free lance writer who covers aging, health care and medical issues.  This article was published in April 2006.  He can be reached at hweissri@aol.com.

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