What’s the key to longevity? Durango resident Mitylene Shultz isn’t sure, but she says it may have something to do with the fact that she never bothered with smoking cigarettes.
Shultz celebrated her 105th birthday Wednesday. She was born in 1916, and up until about 10 months ago, she was still living independently. Now she lives with her son, Roy Igo, in Durango West II.
Shultz is the sole remaining member of her siblings, two brothers and a sister. She was 2 years old when the Spanish flu struck. She was a young woman when World War II started; one of her brothers flew bombers in the Philippines and another was in boot camp preparing to join the war.
Shultz said she never drinks more than one glass of wine. She was named after her grandmother, whose name originates from a Greek city from biblical times (Acts 20:14). She couldn’t recall much of her small home town in Arkansas, except that it was a southern town. She said she doesn’t worry about things from 100 years ago.
Her memory is spotty these days, but she can still recall some of her travels with her late second husband, Alvin. They traveled the world together, she said. Shultz has visited every continent in the world, including Antarctica.
Shultz has never visited a country where she didn’t like the food, she said. Her favorite home snacks are cookies and coffee. Of her travels to Thailand, Shultz said the scenery was nice and so were the people.
“What else can you ask for?” she said.
Part-time caretaker Bonnie Simons said Shultz enjoys going on drives to look at the nature around Durango. Shultz thinks the scenery is beautiful. She enjoys the mountains, but in particular, she appreciates the trees, especially in the spring and fall when the leaves are changing colors.
“Colorado has the most beautiful scenery,” Simons recalled Shultz telling her on one drive. “Look at those yellow trees. Look at that tall tree; has it grown since yesterday?”
Simons takes Shultz by the old Durango High School on their drives because 1916 is engraved at the top of the building. Simons tells Shultz that that is her building.
“Mitylene carries on a kind and pleasant conversation,” Simons said. “She just doesn’t remember what she just asked you. So every day is brand new.”
Shultz struggled to remember her fondest memory, but she said she has nice children. She has two sons, Roy Igo and Robbin, the latter of whom lives in Parker, Arizona. Shultz and Igo also have a dog named Lucy who curls up at the foot of Shultz’s bed in the mornings, she said.
“My mom always had the best attitude out of any person I’ve ever known,” Igo said. “I think that’s the key to her longevity: A really good attitude. Never bitter.”
Shultz has two part-time caretakers, Simons and Pat Lougee, who Igo said are lifesavers for their help in caring for Shultz.
“They are the best, they love mom and care for her,” he said. “They just love her. It’s been really, really helpful to have them.”
For Shultz’s birthday she had dinner at Kennebec Cafe. She was joined by her son, her daughter-in-law and two sisters-in-law as well as a couple of close family friends.
“It was a great dinner, and she got to socialize for a couple of days with people out of her past,” Igo said.