Dorris Pace is not particularly excited about people making a fuss over her 100th birthday Dec. 6. But she’s resigned that they will.

“I suppose I can’t get out of it,” she said.

The celebration will be mostly a family affair, keeping it low-key.

Not so for Pace’s 90th birthday – she took her family on a Caribbean cruise. Her daughters, Sherry Rost and Paula Pace, said it was an unusual choice for their mother, who is afraid of the water and never learned to swim. They did recall how Pace chased an iguana on one of the trips to shore. She tried to corner it, unsuccessfully, with her scooter.

Dorris Pace

Dorris Pace will celebrate her 100th birthday Dec. 6.

Pace tried to talk her family into a casino trip for her 100th celebration. That’s a legacy of her husband, Encil.

“I played house and my husband gambled,” Pace chuckled. “But he was a good gambler!”

Pace is no slouch herself, recalling one successful gambling trip. Her winnings were so large, the casino offered her an escort to her car.

She lives a quieter life now at Wel-Life Assisted Living. She likes it there just fine.

Pace was born Dorris Jacobson, the last of seven children, five boys and two girls. She was born in a granary, where her family was living until their farm home was finished.

She attended a country school outside Plankinton, SD, with only two girls in her high school. That changed after word got out that the senior trip was five days in the Black Hills. Pace said three boys transferred to her school just for that trip. It was worth it, as the seniors not only toured the work being done at Mount Rushmore, but got to go to the top of the monument. They walked across Washington’s and Lincoln’s foreheads and had their photo taken there.

After high school, Pace moved to the big city of Mitchell and worked at an orphanage, Abott House, first cleaning and then cooking. One of her brothers, Art, had a locker in Elk Point and he talked her into moving here to work with him. She spent just under six years at the locker before she met Encil at a dance in Jefferson right at the end of the WW2. They didn’t date long, married soon after and it lasted 63 years.

Pace was a housewife until 1970, raising their five children – Steve Pace, Allen Pace, Sherry Rost, Paula Pace, and Lori Pace (deceased). After that she worked as a cook at the American Legion.

Sherry and Paula don’t think they ever saw their mother sitting idle.

“She had busy hands,” Paula said. “You were a good mom. Growing up we had great food… you always made sure the kitchen and house were picked up before we went to bed.”

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.