Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

August 25, 2013

Susan Odgers: In many ways, growing older has its perspectives

My friend, Vivien Prindl, will be 102 years old this Halloween.

Her age, however, is her most remarkable feature.

Mrs. Prindl told me she thinks we both care about other people’s development. “Life is special. I’m not,” she said. “Many people do interesting things. In the world’s family of people, diversity is crucial. I’ve seen children with various disabilities marvelously mainstreamed in England. All of the school children benefited. There is so much to learn about in this world.”

Four mornings a week, she tutors a 10-year-old neighborhood boy. The two have been working together for the past four summers and now he’s confidently working at his grade level. At noon, she eats her warm meal. During the day she reads, listens to the radio, plays Scrabble with visitors, crochets, and writes letters (rough drafts and final copies a reflective day later). She also works on the book she’s been writing. She’s now on chapter 10 of Five Generations of Musical Prindls.

Folks call or stop by to see if she needs anything. Neighbors are nearby.

When she turned 100, her local newspaper wrote a front page story about her, complete with a photo. There were parties, cards from the President of the United States, even fireworks. Her son and his wife came from their home in England to help her celebrate. She seems both amused and grateful for the recognition.

Prindl’s husband Frank, a beloved music professor, died in 1974. She’s never remarried. She retired in 1976 after a long career as an elementary school teacher. Since retiring, she’s held many long volunteer positions as a teacher. For the past many years, she’s lived and volunteered at the Kurn Hattin Home for Children in Vermont. She spends the rest of the year living and volunteering in New York.

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