Her birthday is on April 1st…April Fool’s Day. But It’s no joke. Although you think she’s got to be kidding when she tells you her age…the beautiful, smart, vivacious woman will be 100 and is going strong. Really strong. Doris Cummins is proof positive that age is just a number. “She really could put people half her age to shame, but she’s much too proud to do so,” said Laura Wengler, director of community life at Eastcastle Place.
Cummins, who lived in Whitefish Bay for 55 years, moved to Eastcastle Place senior living community 9 years ago. “My husband had died, and I stayed in my home for a year but it was lonely, and it was hard to maintain the house. It was time to do something else,” she said.
Cummins knew some people who were living happily at Eastcastle Place and when visiting the senior living community, she found it to be warm and lovely.
“It’s wonderful living here. It’s a great place to live. There are always so many things going on: lectures, exercise classes, water aerobics, and outings. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” she said.
Cummins has had great passion and talent for writing since she was very young. “In high school, I had such nerve! My friend and I would go to the Pabst Theatre when guest artists were in town, and we’d try to get interviews. They were awfully nice about it and glad to talk to us. I interviewed Helen Hayes, people from the Bolshoi Ballet, and lots of other fascinating people. The articles ran in our high school newspaper,” she recalled.
Cummins pursued her passion after high school, graduating from Marquette University with a degree in journalism and working in advertising and public relations until she married and had four children.
While her children were young, Cummins decided to return to school to earn her Master’s in Education. She explained, “I didn’t want a 9-5 job while my children were still young. I decided it would make sense to earn my Masters and work as a substitute teacher until my kids were older at which time I would work full time,” she said. Cummins became a reading specialist in the Milwaukee school system.
In 1980, Cummins returned to her first love: writing. “I did freelance work for the next 20 years or so for publications including Exclusively Yours, Manga One, M Magazine, and the Sunday Milwaukee Journal. She wrote mostly human interest stories because she loved meeting and visiting with people and getting a peek into their interesting life stories.
When she moved to Eastcastle Place, Cummins brought her favorite pastime with her, launching a resident newsletter for which she is still a contributing writer.
Cummins said that at Eastcastle Place, she has made dear friends. “Everyone is very welcoming and interesting. “There are a lot of highly educated people here, and they’re very sociable and welcoming. People tease me that I sign up for everything here. I like to keep busy and involved in things, and to keep learning.”
In honor of her 100th birthday, Cummins is going to hold a “big party” for all the residents at Eastcastle Place. “We’ll have a cocktail hour and then picnic supper,” she said. Later in the week she will celebrate with her extended family traveling from throughout the country to be with her.
Cummins said she’s surprised to find herself having reached the age of 100. “I credit my longevity to my long and happy marriage, my wonderful family, and a strong religious faith. I am more of an optimist than a pessimist.”
Wengler said that Cummins is a remarkable woman. “Doris is testament to the concept that 100 is the new 70,” she said.