Dorothy Adair had planned to visit Scotland for a wedding in May. At 106 years of age.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, that trip didn’t happen, which would have been remarkable for someone of her age, and there won’t be another opportunity for the beloved Chemainus resident to go again. She died last Wednesday after spending a week in the hospital following a stroke on Canada Day.
Adair was obviously one of the oldest persons on Vancouver Island and in the entire province, but requests for exact records to confirm those details have not yet been answered.
Adair only moved to Chemainus from Ontario two years ago at 104.
“In a very short period of time, she always used to brag to her friends in Ontario how nice the people of Chemainus were, how welcoming they were,” said nephew Jim Chisholm of Saltair, who works as the Band Administrator for the Penelakut Tribe.
Adair, who still lived on her own, made a point of frequenting the Chemainus 55+ Activity Centre where she was almost twice as old as the minimum required for membership.
“She just loved that group of people,” said Chisholm.
Among her admirers from the centre was George Robson.
“She had an incredible memory,” he indicated. “Her mental capacity didn’t seem to deteriorate with age.
“She’d come to the centre and do the rounds. She’d go from one end to the other and stop at just about everybody and say a few words. She was always upbeat and she was always cheerful and everyone was really fond of her.”
Robson added Adair always looked like she just stepped out of a bandbox, immaculately dressed.
“She was very dignified in the sense she wouldn’t go out to dinner without dressing up,” said Chisholm. “Her dignity was very important to her.”
Adair was like Norm on Cheers. Everybody knew her name from her visits to the hairdresser, the bank, the pharmacy or to get her nails done.
She had a total knee replacement in Ontario at the age of 103 before moving west.
Adair’s last two birthdays were celebrated at the Activity Centre, with nearly 70 people in attendance for a luncheon in February. Her birthdate is Feb. 11.
“I’m very happy about the food,” Adair said at the time. “I really thought it was wonderful.”
As for the turnout, it was “more than I thought,” she added. “We brought plates for 60 and they ran out.”
Chisholm said a graveside service will be held for Adair in Atwood, Ontario on July 24 and she’ll be buried alongside her husband Joseph, who died 30 years ago. The couple never had any children.
“She was the most generous and giving person I ever met,” said Chisholm. “She was very good to a lot of people. She did everything to make it a better world than what she came into.
“Obviously, we’re sad to lose her. Real testament to the people of Chemainus. They made her life better.”
Chisholm praised Dr. Jim Broere and staff at Cowichan District Hospital for making her final days as comfortable as possible.
Adair and her husband were both long-time educators. She had a 39-year teaching career before retiring in her late 50s, and the couple traveled extensively during their years together, stepping onto every continent except Antarctica.
Adair’s obvious intellect might be one factor to account for her longevity, but she said there was no indication of it in her family history.
“I never dreamed of anything like that,” she conceded in a prior interview.
“People seem to be living longer, I don’t know what’s the answer.”
Adair once said people referred to her as ‘Amazing’ so often that “I’m going to change my name to Grace.”