By Jason Wesseldyk
What’s the key to living a long, happy life?
According to Eloise Doster, it’s helping others and staying mentally active.
“You’ve got to be interested in other people and do everything you can to make their day a little better,” she said. “Listen to their stories. Hear what they have to say. You’ll probably learn something along the way, too.
“And it’s important to read and learn as much as you can for as long as you can. There’s always more to learn.”
Doster should know. She celebrated her 100th birthday on Nov. 11.
In honor of that special occasion, The Stanford Lodge hosted a birthday party for Doster on Saturday, Nov. 19. Among the guests in attendance was Plainwell mayor Brad Keeler, who presented Doster with a framed certificate of appreciation on behalf of the city.
“It was really nice for everyone to come out and wish me a happy birthday,” Doster said. “I always enjoy having visitors.”
The birthday party was actually the second for Doster. The first came a week earlier at Doster Community Reformed Church, with approximately 160 guests taking part in the festivities.
At that party, Doster handed out copies of her recently published book entitled “This and That,” which features a variety of stories Doster has accumulated during her life.
“I love to tell stories and some of my family members were encouraging me to write them down so they wouldn’t be forgotten,” Doster said. “That’s where this book came from.”
“This and That” is Doster’s third literary endeavor. The first was about the history of Doster Community Reformed Church and the second was a history of the Doster family.
“I’ve always enjoyed history and I’ve always enjoyed writing, so I was able to combine those things with my books,” Doster said.
Doster moved to Plainwell with her family when she was in eighth grade. She never left.
“I love this community,” she said. “It is a great place to raise a family.”
Doster and her husband George lived on a farm throughout their marriage, raising cattle and crops. They also raised six children, all of whom still live in the Plainwell area.
Jade Harrington, one of Doster’s daughters, said family, friends and church were the primary areas of focus for her parents.
“My mother has always loved growing flowers and prepared many bouquets for special occasions and church services,” Harrington said. “My parents have been very instrumental in the Doster Church. Both my parents held many positions and contributed many hours to the church.”
In addition to writing and reading, Doster’s favorite pastimes include playing cards.
“She’s still competitive,” Harrington said.
And while the inclement weather and iffy road conditions may have kept some people from attending the party at the Stanford Lodge, Doster enjoyed visiting with those who were able to attend.
“She always loves a good gathering of people and wants to know and learn about them,” Harrington said.