>> BY PETER WORDEN
Climbing atop her woodpile the other day, Donna Hannah says a stranger stopped to remark, “You’re pretty agile for a 50-year-old.” The surefooted 84-year-old still chops, peels and stacks her own wood. “Whether he was just being complimentary or wasn’t looking that hard I don’t care,” she says, laughing.
A family photo with Donna (top-left) PHOTO PETER WORDEN.
Donna gets up before the sun. She swims, gardens, plays piano and guitar, dances and gives dance lessons and, in short, is more productive and agile than most people half her age. Today, she did 70 sit-ups in the pool and— oh right, the pool! She also has an eight-foot- deep, solar-heated pool in her home.
“Best of all is dancing. Above all else.”
“My husband spoiled me rotten while he was alive,” she says. Donna used to run a laundry business downtown that was hot as hell in the summer. “One day I come home and my husband’s got a piece of equipment to dig up the yard up and said, ‘I’m going to make you a pool.’”
LIFE IN REVELSTOKE
Donna was born in 1932 in Donalda, Alberta. She has been living in Revelstoke since 1945. She left school in Grade 8 and got into business when she was 29. Her first marriage didn’t pan out. (“I stayed single a long time before I decided to take the plunge the second time around,” she says.) Her kids were all grown up when she met her second husband, George, who was in the military shooting down avalanches at the time. He had five kids and she had two, so seven all told. She has two sisters and a brother, who died as a young man logging. She lost her oldest daughter.
Personally, she doesn’t want to see Revelstoke get any bigger. Looking out across her home on Fourth Street in Southside, she remembers a simpler time when not many folks had cars after the war. No sidewalks. No streetlights. “You could hear the frogs and see the stars. I liked it. I don’t like how it is now. It’s a freeway. People ask, ‘Where does this road go?’ I say 10 miles south and it dead-ends. But you’d never know from all the traffic day and night.”
Donna plays with the Selkirk Ramblers at the Monashee Lodge. PHOTO PETER WORDEN.
ADVICE FOR THE AGES
Her one suggestion for younger generations is this: “I would like to see danc- ing back how it used to be when I was a young person,” she says, recalling the days of dance cards and steps like the fox trot and polka that everybody knew. And music, played by a band, not canned in speakers. “I would like to see musicians playing music, not noise.”
To her longevity and vitality, Donna credits many things: gardening, playing music, picking huckleberries, swim- ming, hard work and relaxation. But it is the movement of dance she values most.
“Swimming is great exercise and walking is great exercise, but best of all is dancing, above all else.”
*Donna is by no measure the oldest in town. However, she is wise beyond her years. If you know someone who is the oldest and/or wisest in Revelstoke and should be featured in this section please contact firstname.lastname@example.org