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Washington housemates celebrate 101st birthdays together

LaVerne Dorr and Florence Murbach shared at least one secret to living to 101: "Cheesecake."

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — Congratulations to LaVerne Dorr and housemate Florence Murbach of Lynwood for joining an elite club that few of us will join.

“Club 101” is reserved exclusively for people who have been around for 101 years. 

Dorr and Murbach both celebrated a big birthday this week at Hilltop Adult Family home.

It’s a small assisted living home that made these ladies feel special on their milestone birthday, despite the social distancing and separation from their families.

Elsa Bruno is their personal caretaker and says isolating them from family is the toughest part of the pandemic. Bruno says it's rare to have two people celebrating their 101st birthdays at the same time and under one roof.

It’s been a week of cake, balloons, flowers and music for two women who have now lived through two pandemics — the current coronavirus pandemic and the 1918 flu pandemic, which lasted through 1920.

Florence Murbach grew up in North Dakota in a time when people ate what they grew and the clothes were handmade. She would walk miles to school unless it snowed — happens a lot in North Dakota — and then her father would take them in a horse-drawn sleigh.

She’s certainly seen a different walk of life — the kind she can only tell stories about to her five grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Florence moved to the Northwest when she was 21 and eventually met and married Laurence Murbach who worked for Boeing until he retired. They were married for 71 years.

LaVerne is a local and married her husband Buford Dorr on her 21st birthday. They were married for 70 years. She says she’s most proud of her family: three children, six grandkids and five step-great-grandchildren.

Several family members visited this week from outside the facility. Not being able to hug and hold family members is the one part of their birthday that LaVerne and Florence agreed was the toughest.

Their caretakers had live musicians perform outside the home and there was plenty to celebrate despite the challenges of the pandemic.