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Nearing 100, South Boston woman still full of energy

A hundred years of memories, some good, some bad, but “life has been amazing.”

of South Boston will celebrate her 100th birthday Sunday, and she still gets up every day and puts on her make-up and favorite jewelry.

“I wake up every day, and if it’s a good day then good, if not, tomorrow is a better day,” said Dunn.

The high-energy centenarian who has never met a stranger hasn’t had many dull days. 

She was a flying enthusiast who worked as an assistant manager for Southern Airways Inc. in Danville. 

She was a member of the Ninety-Nines; an organization formed for female pilots and even got to meet the famous Amelia Earhart when she stopped for a gas fill up at the Danville airport.

Dunn also wears the proud title of being the first woman pilot to solo a plane out of Danville airport.

“Not many people can say they can fly. I can fly,” said Dunn.

In addition to being a flying enthusiast, she also worked in the Halifax Regional Health System for several years as an emergency room nurse.

She said nurses couldn’t tell everything, and  she proudly admitted she has never revealed a hospital secret.

Ten decades of changes have come and gone in her lifetime, and Dunn said she is most thankful for running water and working air conditioners. 

“Back then, we didn’t have air conditioners. We had to raise the windows up,” said Dunn.

Dating wasn’t like it is these days. There was no such thing as going to the movies or going to hang out, she recalled.

“You couldn’t go unless someone else went with you, and you didn’t go far,” added Dunn.

Dunn is a graduate of the Oak Level Class of 1929. She graduated with honors and was on the basketball team. And to this day she remains a huge Duke University fan.

Dunn recalls playing as the guard, but she could still get in there to make the winning point.

 “She likes to decorate houses. She wakes up thinking about it. She collects antiques and has even moved a lot down here,” said Dunn’s daughter, Nancy.

Dunn also enjoys arranging flowers, and now she loves flags.

“Any type of flag… she just loves to look at flags,” said Nancy.

Still able to walk on her own, although from time to time she gets a little help from a cane, Dunn is in excellent health despite her right eye giving her a little trouble and having to have a pacemaker put in a while back. 

She proudly tells folks she only has to take five pills a day.

“I walk just fine, and if I have to I can get up pretty fast,” said Dunn as she showed off her brand new sneakers.

These days she attends church every Sunday at First Baptist Church. 

But she is quick to tell her friends and visits she was the first woman deacon at Ingram Christian Church, the first lady trustee, and she taught Sunday school there for 50 years.

 According to Nancy, Ingram’s pastor and his wife still come to visit Dunn whenever they come to town.

Dunn moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, Harold Bane, four years ago. During that time she decided she wanted to take up using the computer and Internet, something she had never done before.

“Someone said to me, aren’t you satisfied knowing how to fly?” said Dunn.

The centenarian can recall the simpler times in life when she came home to her husband, Joe Dunn, after getting off early at the hospital and what she calls the “sweetest night” when she nestled on his shoulder and “he held me so sweet.”

Her advice to the generation of today, “go to church, make sure you trust the man you marry, get a job before you get married and do something you like to do in life.”

According to Dunn, this is her favorite time of year, when the birds and ducks prepare to fly down south. She loves to watch them venture off on their journey.

Nancy is giving her mother a birthday party, Saturday, Sept. 8, in First Baptist Church fellowship hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

“I’m going to come out of a chariot,” said an excited Dunn. 

“God has been mighty good to me,” Dunn concluded.