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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The secret to 105 years? Dancing

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thelma Varvil celebrated her 105th birthday Tuesday with her daughter-in-law Pat Keith and daughter Patty Borman and a roomful of friends at Asbury Towers.
GREENCASTLE -- With sparkling eyes and a smile as delicious as the cakes, cobblers and pies she always baked, 105-year-old Thelma Varvil would always choose to dance.

"I think that is what helped keep her so young," said her daughter-in-law Pat Keith. "She loves to dance."

Varvil celebrated her 105th birthday Tuesday at Asbury Towers with a room full of friends and family. Born in 1905 in Putnam County, she was a graduate of Reelsville High School and married Orlan Varvil shortly after finishing school.

She was famous around Putnam County not only for being an outstanding cook, but also for her fabulous cakes and cobblers. Her husband worked for the railroad and she was a homemaker spending her time raising her two children Patty and Robert.

"She loved babies," said Keith. "Every time one of us had one she would come and take care of us." She had six grandchildren, so she was busy.

Once her husband retired and her own children were grown, she persuaded her husband to take dance lessons.

"He really didn't want to," said daughter Patty Borman. "But once he did, they both loved it."

One of the stories Borman recalled was going to her parent's house and seeing their car wrecked and sitting in the driveway.

"We couldn't find them anywhere. We were so worried. When they finally came home we found out it was wrecked on the way to a dance at the senior center. They called a tow truck and had the driver drop them off at the dance and take the car home," laughed Borman.

Even after her husband passed away in 1979, Varvil would persuade her son Robert to take her to dance.

"She was in her 80's and still making Robert dance with her," both women recalled.

Varvil was always fun to be with they reported. She loved to play cards and taught all the grandchildren to play penny poker.

"If no one was around, she would play solitaire. She loved cards," recalled Keith.

In 1994, she moved in with her sister Wilma, who was two years younger, at Asbury Towers assisted living.

The two were as different as night and day, but loved each other fiercely.

"Wilma was a school teacher and very prim and proper, mother was more of a free spirit," said Borman. "Wilma used to tell about having to go out and pull Thelma off the dance floor when they were young. She always said she was so embarrassed about her dancing, but mother loved to do it," said Keith.

Even the staff at Asbury Towers talked about her dancing. They would often find her in her room with music from the radio and she would be dancing.

"She could dance everything from the salsa to the waltz," said Keith.

Varvil's parents both lived a long time so her daughter and daughter-in-law aren't sure exactly what the secret to her hitting 105 is, but they do believe her joy in life is a large part of it, and most definitely her love of dancing.

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God Bless!

-- Posted by foxtrotter on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 9:29 AM

What a great heartwarming story.

-- Posted by small town girl on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 9:34 AM

What a great story!

God Bless her...

-- Posted by Dagnabbit on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 10:01 AM

Happy birthday, Thelma! God bless you!

-- Posted by John3:16 on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 12:06 PM

...."we found out it was wrecked on the way to a dance at the senior center. They called a tow truck and had the driver drop them off at the dance and take the car home,"


Hahaha-that's great ! (when life throw you lemons, make lemonade and go dancing) Thank you for sharing - happy birthday Thelma ! :-D

-- Posted by Scripted Spontaneity on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 1:35 PM

Thelma Varvil is my great aunt. I only met her once when my father took me from California to Indiana to attend my grandfathers funeral. I was 4 years old. We stayed at Uncle Orlan and Aunt Thelmas house. I fell in love with her immedietly. She was so warm and caring. I slept in bed with her and she made rice crispie treats for breakfast. I was terrified of baths and told Aunt Thelma that "I took a bath in the kitchen sink" That was no problem for Aunt Thelma. She just filled up the kitchen sink and gave me a bath like it was the most natural thing in the world. Then we spent a few days with another aunt and uncle. Nothing like being with Aunt Thelma. She is a precious lady and I will never foreget her, even if I am fortunate enough to live to 105. Happy Birthday. And many more!

-- Posted by Tammy Lynn on Mon, Jul 5, 2010, at 4:30 PM

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