Marshfield kayaker, 91, finds joy in living
At 91, Natalie Loomis doesn’t have time to think about aging. “I feel like I’m a young woman – and of course I’m not,” she says with her rich chuckle. “The years have been so busy, I haven’t had time to worry about aging.”
On a sunny August morning, she walks with careful balance along the riverbank behind her house on Ferry Hill in Marshfield. Strong and athletic, she’s soon paddling along the South River in her bright yellow kayak.
“I love to be on the water, to go up the marshes and see the wildlife,” she calls out. “There is a freedom, a joy in being on the water that you can’t equal.”
There is a lot of freedom and joy in Loomis’ life – she’s made it that way.
A former first-grade teacher, she retired in 1982 and enjoyed many good years of travel with her late husband, Aaron, an engineer and toymaker. Since he died in 2002, she has filled her life with activities, family and friends of all ages. One of them, Justine Hobin, 50, e-mailed me:
“We here at Curves try to get ourselves in shape, no matter what our age is, and one of our inspirations, Natalie Loomis, just turned 91! Natalie looks and feels fabulous. She says her secret to looking and feeling great is simple: ‘Keep Active, Think Positively and Expect the Best!’”
Hobin works at Curves, where Natalie goes daily to use the strength training and aerobic machines.
“I want to keep all my parts moving,” she says.
On Mondays, she often volunteers at the Clift Rodgers Library. Tuesdays, she is often at Audubon’s South Shore Sanctuary. Wednesday is for her Christian Scientist church and on Fridays she reads for the blind at the Talking Information Center.
“I read a magazine called Dialogue about how they start businesses and cope with their disability. And it is absolutely amazing. I gain as much as I give.”
Fit. Optimistic. Capable and sharp. Yet just a few months ago, when she attended the 70th-year reunion of her Smith College Class of 1938, she and the other alumnae were required to bring escorts. It seems a funny notion.
“There were 25 of us, all alert, active, interesting women, and we had a ball,” she says. “We had to take a companion because they won’t let you back at this age unless you have someone with you. Most of us took our daughters and we had such fun.”
She was married to Aaron, an MIT graduate, right after college in 1938. They raised four children in Needham and in 1967 moved year-round to their summer home on Ferry Hill. Aaron had a heart attack at 47 and, uncertain of the future, she returned to college to get her teaching degree in case she needed to support the family. She was 46.
“Aaron recovered, but by then, I was hooked on teaching,” she says. She taught first grade for 18 years at the Eames Way School. When she retired in 1982, the principal called her one of the best teachers he’d seen – “a combination of Santa Claus, mother, grandmother, nurse and the Good Fairy.”
“I love working with children,” she says. “Little children are so honest and love you no matter what your age. And they are such eager learners.”
Her five-bedroom home overlooking Humarock is a center of activity for eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“They don’t have to sit and talk to grandma,” she says. “There are boats to go on in the river, they can swim, cook.
“Whatever pleases them.”
Reporter Sue Scheible can be reached at 617-786-7044, by mail at The Patriot Ledger, Box 699159, Quincy, MA 02269-9159 or e-mail at email@example.com.