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At 107, Powell's 'Grandma T' is older than the town itself

Jan 13, 2014 - By Tessa Schweigert, For the Associated Press

POWELL -- Born in 1906 -- when Theodore Roosevelt served as president and Buffalo Bill's Wild West still toured Europe -- Dottie Turney is older than Powell itself.

The town was founded in 1909, and its oldest resident marked her 107th birthday on Dec. 19. She celebrated with family at the Powell Valley Care Center, where she resides.

Quick to smile and offer a hug, Turney's family describes her as "always smiling."

"She brings a lot of joy to others," said Penny Blake, her granddaughter.

"She attributes her longevity to hard work. She never smoked or drank alcohol," Blake added.

Turney's life has spanned major events in modern history. She was a youngster when the Titanic sank and when World War I began.

She was born in Iowa on Dec. 19, 1906. Her family later moved to Briggsdale, Colo. As a child, Turney went to church on Sundays in a horse-drawn buckboard.

Turney attended a county school that only went to eighth grade.

"She attended the eighth grade a couple of years because she couldn't go to high school," Blake said. "The last year she attended, she taught the kids, because the teacher was a 'drunkard,' in her words."

Turney later worked as a waitress and spent many years as a cafeteria employee. One Christmas season, Turney got a job as a hand model in a department store, showing jewelry and nail polish.

She married Donald Turney in 1927, and the couple moved to Powell in the early 1930s. They raised one child, Doris (Turney) Cunningham, who died in 2011. Turney became a grandmother to four granddaughters, four great-grandchildren, eight great-great grandchildren and four great-great-great grandchildren.

Turney lived on her own through her 90s. Turney's granddaughter Penny, remembers when Turney was 80, and she said then she "wasn't going to live very long."

That was nearly 30 years ago.

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Editor's note: Tessa Schweigert writes for the Powell Tribune

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