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Bride Brook resident still smiling during second pandemic in her 102-year life

East Lyme — Dorothy Moreau sat outside the Bride Brook nursing home Monday afternoon, spunky as ever on her 102nd birthday.

Born in 1918 during the flu pandemic, she also is a survivor of the current one. Moreau tested positive for COVID-19 in April, had difficulty breathing for a couple of days, and recovered. 

Her birthday was a special occasion for the staff at Bride Brook, who were devastated when 100 residents were infected with COVID-19 and 14 died.

Wheeled beneath a tree outside the Niantic facility for an interview with The Day, she wore a sky blue baseball cap that matched her eyes, remarked that it was a beautiful day, and smiled nonstop.

She had little to say about how it feels to be 102 years old: "No different," she said.

Her advice on living a good life? "Keep yourself, and be happy." Exercise is important to Moreau, who is still able to walk.

She said her earliest memory was of growing up with her family on Jean Street in Gardner, Mass.

"We were always very close," she said. "Great memories."

Then she said something that made the nursing home staff and her visitors smile. "This will become a great memory, too."

"She's the sweetest lady ever," said social worker Jordyn Perlin.

Her two daughters, Sally Bender who lives in Niantic, and Mary Jane Moreau who lives in Massachusetts, said they will celebrate her birthday with balloons and cupcakes during their standing Wednesday visit on the facility's covered porch.

Moreau and her husband of 55 years, Bernard Moreau, started their family in Florida. They moved to Amherst, Mass., where she worked  at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as secretary to the dean of students and later, secretary to the vice chancellor.

Sally Bender said her mother had a lot of very good habits. She lived close enough to work to walk there and back every day, and she always packed a healthy lunch. She has good genes too, her daughters said. Her father lived to be 89 and her grandfather lived to 100.

Her daughter, Mary Jane Moreau, said her mother was working for the dean during the 1960s when protesting students would often conduct sit-ins in the dean's office. Moreau would just walk around them, or maybe give them a cookie, the daughter said.

She and her husband traveled to many exotic places, and her daughters mentioned a photograph of Moreau sitting on a camel in Algeria.

"We went to oh, so many places," Moreau said. "When my husband and I were younger, we just traveled whenever we wanted."

Moreau moved to Niantic to be closer to family in 1982, and lived on her own for many years before she took a fall and fractured her pelvis. She want to Bride Brook for rehabilitation, and her daughters decided it was a good place for her to stay. She loves the staff, and the staff love her, her daughters said, probably because Moreau doesn't complain.

"If you have to live somewhere else than your present place, this is the place to live," she said of Bride Brook.

k.florin@theday.com

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