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Founded in 1989 by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
Centenarian Expert and Older Adults Advocate

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Ms. magazine: 20th Century Foxes
Interviews by Lynn Peters Adler, Founder and Director, National Centenarian Awareness Project
A Century of

Women

 

 Lenore Schaeffer, 103

Lenore Schaeffer, 103
Born: July 25, 1896; Chicago, Ill.
Resides: Phoenix, Ariz.
Descendants: 3 children, 1 stepchild,
8 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren
Occupation: Bookkeeper, homemaker, volunteer


Lenore Schaeffer married at 16 and says, "I was kept very busy being a wife and mother, and then a single mother, raising two sons alone." Her first husband "ran off with a chorus girl" when she was pregnant with their second child. She refused to take him back. Twelve years later she married her second husband, whom she describes as "a good man and a good provider." Schaeffer, who lives independently in her own home, took up ballroom dancing at 82. She claims to be the nation's oldest competitive ballroom dancer. "I have danced my way from New York City to Mexico City, and I have a house full of trophies to prove it."

What was the most important thing that happened for women during this century? When women were finally given the right of citizenship. The right to vote was the first step in the struggle of women to achieve equality with men, in obtaining an education, seeking employment in all areas of endeavor, and receiving equal pay.

How did it affect your life? I was an adult who couldn't vote, wasn't permitted to receive a higher education. My parents were immigrants, and to their way of thinking education wasn't important for me, but it was for my brothers. I wasn't able to develop my potential in the workplace because the opportunities in the commercial world were reserved exclusively for men. For women, the right to vote started it all.

What advice would you give to girls today? Take advantage of all the opportunities the women of my generation fought so hard to achieve for you. It's time to take a step further and elect a woman president!

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