“Olive Dubay, Michigan's Oldest Resident, Dies at Age 110"


Fred Gray, Staff Writer, Petoskey News Review

Friday, August 11, 2006; Harbor Springs, MI - - Michigan's oldest resident died at Bay Bluffs on Monday, moments after saying goodbye to each of the nurses who had taken care of her for the past six years.

Bay Bluffs Executive Director Diana Bailey said Olive was about three weeks away from her 111th birthday, Aug. 30th.

Olive's nephew Ed Veltman, 71, a retired police officer who resides in Harrison Township and who visited her several times a week while summering in Oden, said Olive had been doing well until the last week. “She did very well all year with her strong voice and antics at times,” he said. Veltman said he had been making plans for her birthday with relatives. “I've been celebrating her birthdays since her 104th,” he said. “I came over as often as I could, and she looked forward to my visits. She was always one of my favorite aunts.”

Veltman said that at the time of her death Olive was 58th oldest person in world, 23th oldest in the United States, and the oldest person in Michigan, as validated by Gerontology Research Group (http://www.grg.org).

“They told me someone was with Olive around the clock at the end,” he said. Father Joe of Holy Childhood Catholic Church administered Last Rites. After Father Joe said, “Amen,” Olive replied, “Amen,” Veltman said he had been told.

“The nurse told me that all the caregivers who had been with her during the period went in at 6 PM to comfort her, say goodbye and tell her they loved her. At 6:15 on Monday, when all had said goodbye, she closed her eyes and died.”

Veltman said that about a week after her birthday last year, Olive ask asked him what the next world would be like. “I leaned over and said, ‘It'll be just fine”,' and she said: “I hope so. I hope so.”

“Olive would tell me from time to time she wanted to see her mother and her sister. She held on until she was ready to go, at her own pace. She died because she was ready to go. She had no illness - just old age. She decided it was time; she was tired.”

Last year Olive celebrated her birthday at Bay Bluffs, and after enduring several rounds of thrice-told tales by family members from as far away as Sun City West, Ariz., she insisted she be served her scoops of vanilla before they melted.

Asked if she was having a nice time at her party, Olive said she was, but when asked how old she was, she said: “I forgot,” bringing a round of understanding smiles to the collection of relatives and Bay Bluffs residents gathered in the balloon-bedecked dining room.

A native of the village of DeTour at the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula, Olive loved her smoked whitefish and poking at the piano, which she first played for silent movies in the 1920s.

“Up until about four years ago Olive had a wheelchair but would only push it, not sit in it, because she didn't want to appear dependent,” Veltman said. “Up until she was 90, she loved to walk a couple miles a day.”

Veltman said that when her husband, Jim, died 30 years ago at the ago of 80, Olive moved to Oden, where she lived with her daughter, Virginia.

Veltman made Olive's history a continuing project.

“We've gone through all the records in DeTour and have been hand searching for her relatives,” said Veltman, who carries a pocket computer to show photos of Olive and her relatives at the push of a pen.

The CIA World Fact Book reports that based on European data, only one in 1,000 centenarians lives to become a Supercentenarian, and in turn, only about one Supercentenarian in 15 lives to turn 114 years old.

Mr. Fred Gray can be contacted at 439-9374 or E-mail: fgray@petoskeynews.com.