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At 105, she's forever Young ; For centenarian in Kenmore, it's a birthday enriched by youthful spirit over a lifetime

Dorothy Young of Kenmore is a centenarian who exemplifies her last name.

The 105-year-old resident of Alterra Wynwood of Kenmore, an assisted-living retirement home on Delaware Avenue, remains young in spirit.

She has always valued being active. Up until last year, she spent a fair amount of time visiting local elementary schools to share with children her own childhood experiences from nearly a century ago.

"I love history. I probably would have been a teacher could I have finished college, but I was one of seven, and there wasn't the money," Young recalled Wednesday as about 50 Alterra Wynwood residents gathered to celebrate her birthday.

Born in Buffalo, she moved to Kenmore in 1918, when she was 12, and graduated from Holy Angels School.

"[Holy Angels] was at D'Youville College then," she recalled. "I mean, it hadn't gone over to Shoshone [Park] yet."

Before moving to Kenmore, her family lived on Prospect Avenue on the city's West Side.

After high school, she longed to attend college to study music. A full, four-year college education did not pan out for her, but she found other means to hone her craft, including attending music workshops and choral directing.

She married and raised two sons, one of whom recently retired from Canisius College, where he had taught for 42 years. Another son retired from Union Carbide, where he was a vice president. Dorothy Young has five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

"All but four of them have their degrees and their master's. You know, that's what's the best part, I think, of me seeing my family succeed. They all have a work drive, and I think it's wonderful," she said.

"In fact, one great-grandson called me this morning from Virginia. He said: 'I'm on my break.' He's getting his master's, but he's got a great job working with the environment. I went to kindergarten with him when he was 5 years old. I was his show-and-tell. It was a great experience. Now he's 26."

Dorothy Young has had her own career, giving it up only recently. She was an organist at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in the Town of Tonawanda for 21 years.

"I went to St. Paul's [Catholic Church in Kenmore] . to help them out, and I had a temporary job until they could find somebody, and I worked there 25 years. I had a choir and all that, and then I did retire. And I subbed and helped my organist friends. And through that, I worked at St. Timothy's [Catholic Church in the Town of Tonawanda] for 20 years," she said.

Among her other loves is sharing her own youthful experiences with the very young.

"When I was a little girl, East Hazeltine Avenue was not even in existence. It was fields, and we picked strawberries. and Colvin Boulevard was just wagon tracks," Young recalled.

Her husband, Edward Young, died 21 years ago.

"I lived alone for 17 years after he died," she said. "I lived in my own home and managed all my things."

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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