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Just a number: Local woman still hits the gym at 95

By Staff | Jun 7, 2019

Dorothy Davenport celebrated her 95th birthday at Gold’s Gym in Charles Town, where she takes exercise classes three days a week. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN — Going to the gym is part of Dorothy Davenport’s weekly routine. In fact, it’s part of her routine three times a week. But when Davenport arrived at Gold’s Gym in Charles Town on May 29, she was in for a surprise. While many of her Silver Sneakers exercise mates were present, they were there, not to exercise, but to celebrate Dorothy’s 95th birthday.

The group had planned the surprise, along with gym staffers, bringing in lunch items and desserts for everyone to enjoy.

In addition to all of Dorothy’s exercise buddies, members of her family were on hand as well, including her son, Douglas, who resides in Columbia, Tennessee, and daughters, Meg Davenport, from Santa Fe, New Mexico; Geneva Davenport from Lexington, Virginia; and Alice McCarthy, of Martinsburg. Long-time friend Janet Broxterman-Smith, from Cincinnati, Ohio, also joined in the festivities.

“We’re all here for her birthday,” Geneva said. “It’s actually today, the 29th, and we keep finding reasons to continue the party.”

Dorothy, who was originally from Cincinnati, resides in Charles Town at Altona Farm, the home of “friends and kin,” Faye and Henry Davenport, she said. She was previously a teacher, specializing in helping children with reading problems, specifically those with dyslexia.

Members of the Silver Sneakers exercise classes gathered to celebrate Dorothy Davenport’s 95th birthday on May 29. Toni Milbourne

Dorothy said she had not expected the surprise birthday party.

“I think I’m very surprised,” she laughed. “I expected to have gym and to be here on time.”

Dorothy’s friends enjoyed the break from the Silver Sneakers class, a class designed for mature adults, those inexperienced in exercise programs or those with special physical needs.

“I wouldn’t have missed this. Dorothy and I spend a lot of time in the front row,” said friend Martin Durst.

Fellow classmate Jo Ellen Toothman agreed with Durst, and explained why the class wanted to plan the celebration.

“She is a special lady,” Toothman said. “She’s here three times a week — she’s here more than I am.”

According to Silver Sneakers group instructor Becky Stokes, there are usually 35 to 40 people per class.

“They use light weights, hand weights and balls and bands for stretching,” she said. “They do dance routines in between.”

Gold’s General Manager Tony Markley, who was part of the organizing effort for Wednesday’s party, said that of the dozen or so classes that Gold’s offers, the senior class is the most popular.

When asked what she planned to do to continue celebrating her 95th, Dorothy said she planned to just enjoy it and to try to stay out of trouble.

“When you get to be 95, you enjoy all you can,” she quipped.