When 15-year old Dorothy Marie Wright moved to Emmett 85 years ago little did she know that this would be her permanent landing spot. As her 100th birthday approaches this weekend, she couldn’t be happier that it became just that.
Her memories are filled with accounts of a hardworking, loving family where she always had plenty to do.
Dorothy came to the Valley of Plenty with her parents Arkley and Ida Wright from Oklahoma in 1936. Her father had obtained work on a farm in Emmett, escaping the height of the dust bowl era back in Russellville where Dorothy had been born.
“He worked on a farm on the bench, and mother worked in the kitchen on the farm – I helped,” Dorothy recalls.
Eventually the family saved enough to purchase their own house on the bench – big enough for Dorothy and her three siblings. It wasn’t long, however, that Dorothy would leave that nest. She met Roy Palmer Ash, Sr. through friends at her sister’s house and in August of 1940 they were wed. Roy was the only man Dorothy ever dated.
Roy was also a farmer at the time and Dorothy quickly adapted to being a farmwife with a busy schedule. An excellent homemaker by the accounts of her children, she was a “great cook.”
“She baked bread every week and made the best pies,” recalls her son Roy, Jr.
Her definition of a homemaker was not limited to the kitchen. She maintained a huge vegetable garden, a small orchard of apple, cherry, peach and pears, and canned all that she could. In addition to her edible gardening efforts Dorothy also took great pride in a rose garden.
When not outside gardening or taking off with the family to explore the camping and fishing opportunities around her, Dorothy honed her handiwork skills. Crochet was her forte with many beautiful doilies now cherished by family members. In the midst of all the family activities she also found time to read and do word search puzzles. Something she still enjoys today.
Eventually Roy began working at Boise Cascade. Dorothy added to her duties as well by becoming a nurse’s aid at River’s Edge Rehab and Convalescent Center. Her life has come full circle as she has been a resident at the current location of River’s Edge since cracking her hip in four places four years ago.
It was in 1989 that Dorothy found a little luck. Her family pooled a little money and decided to play a scratch game in the brand new Idaho lottery – the first week of its existence. She won $10,000. She doesn’t recall exactly what they ended up putting the money towards but reported at the time in the Messenger Index that it “was in the bank.”
She purchased the ticket at the IGA store and her picture hung in the store for many years.
Dorothy recalls that her life always centered around family. Until Roy’s death, May 2, 1991 the two were inseparable.
Dorothy used to do all the family books and write the checks “but he would sign them.”
They did venture outside of Emmett on occasion. Dorothy recalls a pretty healthy catch of fish, including salmon, on a trip to see a daughter and her family in Alaska.
But mostly it was family and friends and centered around their always welcoming home.
She says the most important lesson she has learned in her life is to “just get along with others.”
Dorothy counts the day she married Roy as her favorite memory and his death and the death of one daughter the lowest points in her life.
The third of the Wright children, Dorothy recently lost her younger brother Bob, a State Police officer for many years. He passed away Jan. 22 leaving her as the only surviving sibling.
That loss of family has weighed heavy on her, particularly in the limited visitation environment that she has endured due to COVID-19 this past year. Her two surviving children and families visit as often as allowed and will celebrate with her on Saturday in a quiet family setting at the care center.
Dorothy admits that she is a survivor. She set a personal goal of making this birthday happen. She has done so against the odds. She actually contracted COVID and beat it.
Her doctor, Dr. Robin Sebastian, calls her a ‘miracle woman’.
She has added to her resistance by also completing the two-dose vaccines offered in the past few weeks.
She says she’s “happiest now when I wake up each day.”
Keeping her mind and body busy appears to be the driving force that keeps Dorothy Ash smiling and greeting friends and family into a second century.