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Auburn resident Betty Duryee turned 104 years old(!) on Monday

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By Sarah Toce

On Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, Auburn resident Betty Duryee turned 104 years old. 104!

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For her special day, she had one request: to share her story with “the news.”

Duryee has lived at Prestige Senior Living Auburn Meadows for nearly a decade, and regularly engages in day-to-day activities, including social events. She is known around the facility for her extensive collection of silk scarves, which she says keeps her “neck warm.”

Her favorite pastime is (and always has been) reading from her extensive library of hardcover Readers Digest issues. At the time of this publication, Duryee estimated an impressive 30 chronicles in her impressive collection.

“I’m doing good. I like to sit in my chair and read a lot,” Duryee told The Auburn Examiner. “I go on walks to the dining room. I don’t like hiking in the woods or anything like that.”

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Until a few months ago, Duryee was climbing onto step stools and jumping into her daughter’s truck. She’s lived through plenty of global events, including World War II, where her late husband fought for the U.S. Marines. 

“We all called him by his nickname: ‘Mike,’” Duryee shared. “He was a very nice man and very good-looking.”

In fact, before he left for the war, Mike wrote his girlfriend a special letter that now hangs in a frame at her residence.

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“If I can talk you into it someday, I’m going to marry you,” the letter stated. When he returned home, he did just that.

“He proposed right after Pearl Harbor,” she remembered.

They were married at Quantico in Washington, D.C. Only six guests were allowed to attend.

Duryee and Mike had two daughters and one son – Nancy, Doug, and Sally – who currently range in age between 69-79.

When asked what her secret to a long life has been, Duryee credited her luck in inheriting great genes from her family.

“I have no idea. I’m a big help, right?” she said. “I never go to bed and say, ‘Maybe I’m not going to wake up tomorrow morning’ or ‘Maybe I will wake up tomorrow morning.’ I let things go.”

She said she “takes it easy” and knows that she was “very fortunate” to have traveled and lived a fruitful and adventurous journey.

“I’ve traveled to Europe and even Egypt,” Duryee shared. “I rode a camel when I was 80 years old. There was a man in the front and a man in the back.”

Other destinations she’s enjoyed throughout the years: Ireland, Scotland, France, Jordan, and England.

“I’ve had a great life. Epsilon Sigma Alpha made me ‘Woman of the Year’ twice – once in Washington and once in Florida,” she said. “I’m quite proud of that.”

Kristy Laib is the Life Enrichment Director at Duryee’s residence and has regularly teased Duryee about her age, saying she “can’t wait to see her real birth certificate one day.” 

“If you tell anyone anything about me, just tell them I’m happy and I’m waiting to see the world come back to normal,” she said.

Sarah Toce has been in media and publishing for over 16 years and previously served as the president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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