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Washington, D.C. has more than 300 centenarians, 80 percent of whom are women. The oldest D.C. resident is believed to be 110 years old.
The District's Office of Aging is hosting a celebration in their honor on April 9. Among the honorees will be World War II veteran George Boggess, who is 101 years old.
Born in Waco Texas in 1912, Boggess won a scholarship to study at Howard University and made D.C. his home. He puts his longevity down to exercise, "We walked everywhere... walked, to school, to church, to the stores."
He's still mobile now, despite the arthritis in his right knee — a reminder of the bullet wound he sustained from a German gun while on the front line in the Battle of the Bulge from 1944 to 1945.
That injury though, didn't stop him marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. On one march he says, "We were almost killed by mobs who followed us, taunted us and who threatened us. Frankly, I felt more threatened and in more danger of being killed then, than I did in the armed services."
On a three-day pass in 1942, he wed his sweetheart Dorothy. They've been married for 71 years.
He spends weekends at home and on weekdays, he resides at the Veterans Affairs Community Living Center in northwest D.C. He still has a passion for jazz and parties.
The VA Center is home to another centenarian, fellow World War II veteran 105-year-old Alyce Dixon. She has the energy of a woman decades younger and tours the center every morning in her motorized wheelchair, hair coiffed, make-up perfectly applied and nails painted fire engine red. She's known for speaking her mind and ribald sense of humor, "I don't hold back anything. I tell it like it is. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it isn't." When asked her secret to longevity, she says "sharing and caring."
Dixon was one of the first African American women to join the Women's Army Corp, serving in a Postal Directory battalion in Birmingham, England. On her return to the U.S., she worked at the Pentagon in purchasing, buying everything from pencils to planes and developing a lifelong passion for shopping, along with bingo, church and casinos.
"God has been very good to me," she says. The issue of race and color is closest to her heart.
"This thing about color is terrible because God made us all, we all eat, sleep and bathe and do everything alike and it's a silly thing."
Dixon knows firsthand that color is skin deep; she has a condition called Vitiligo, which causes depigmentation, and though she now appears white, she's still the same Alyce Dixon.
The event will host all those centenarians able to attend the celebration at the Washington Plaza Hotel.
[Music: "You Make Me Feel So Young" by Chet Baker from Straight Up]
Photos: 100 Club
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