Lois White at the New Century Fieldhouse where she often joins other seniors for a Pickleball match. Staff photo by Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
She moves around the court with the grace of a natural athlete, and swings the paddle with impeccable timing.
She’s playing a mixed doubles pickleball match when I arrive at the New Century Fieldhouse.
Someone points her out to me- the lady in red shorts – for in this community of seniors, Lois Maxine White is fast becoming legend.
She moves forward to meet the green plastic ball just above the net, whacks it with a paddle to the opposing side, and then takes quick backward steps as she tracks the returned ball on the other end of the court.
But Lois is no ordinary senior. She turned 90 this past January, and she competes with seniors who are sometimes 30 years younger.
Lois has lived in Gardner most of her adult life, raising six children with her late husband, Kenneth.
The oldest of her children is 68 years old, and her youngest 59. She has 20 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren.
“We are expecting another great grand-baby next month,” she says with a chuckle.
Lois and Kenneth moved to a 10 acre lot 55 years ago and raised their children in the community.
“I stayed home and raised the kids, went to all their events. They kept me busy and young,” She says.
Born in Lincoln, Mo., Lois has witnessed a lot of changes in the world around her.
“I saw the first plane that flew past this area, and we were kids, and we were so excited,” she says. She added that she witnessed the building of Interstate 35 and other landmarks in the area.
“I’ve seen a lot in my years and I’m blessed,” she said.
Lois has always kept active, and she said she avoids eating junk food and taking prescription medicine.
“I was always active until I was 70 years old. There are a lot of athletes in my family,” she said.
She says she avoids eating bread and sugar and generally keeps away from packaged foods.
“I mostly cook my own food, and I don’t dare sit and watch TV,” adding that the only medicine she takes is for high blood pressure.
She says even moments of inactivity can lead to a sedentary life. “I took a road trip recently involving a lot of sitting and when I got back it was so hard to get back to my active routine, but I forced myself and here I am, playing pickleball and feeling great.”
Lois still lives in the house she shared with Kenneth and raised their kids, but she recently sold it to one of her grandchildren.
“He lives upstairs. I hear him on occasion,” she says, laughing.
Her oldest son lives down the street from her.
“I live an independent life, but the people who matter most to me are still around me, mostly,” she said.
Besides playing sports, Lois has always loved music.
“I love to sing and play the Mandolin,” she says.
Lois said that being a Christian has helped her maintain a spiritual balance,. and she remains active in her faith community.
“I do a lot of praying,” she said.
I ask her what advice she would give for a long healthy life.
“Eat right, be active and don’t dare just sit around and watch TV,” she said.