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99 and not slowing down

Krystle Wagner • Sep 24, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Dora Quittelier smiled as she moved onto the next activity during a recent physical therapy session.

For most of the past year, the Grand Haven woman has worked with Generation Care professionals as she recovers from broken bones. Quittelier is nearing her final sessions as she prepares to celebrate her 100th birthday on Oct. 1.

Growing up in Antwerp, Belgium, she studied to become a seamstress while attending a trade school. In 1941, she married Albert Quittelier, who was an architect.

In 1951, Quittelier, then 33, and Albert moved to the United States with their daughters: Betty, Andrea, Chris and Thea. Quittelier said they immigrated to the U.S. because Albert believed America offered opportunities for their family.

When she came to America, Quittelier only spoke Flemish, a dialect of Dutch.

Chris Hasse said her mother always says she’s changed four things in her life: country, diet, language and her religion.

In the U.S., the Quittelier family grew with the addition of a son, Allen; and a daughter, Frances.

The family settled in Grand Rapids, but Albert built a summer cottage in Grand Haven in 1956. They stayed at the cottage during the summer months.

While living in Grand Rapids, Quittelier was involved in Emmaus House, working to help individuals in need receive clothing, furniture and other items.

After Albert retired in 1987, they moved to the cottage year-round.

Quittelier worked with Adventist Community Services for about 30 years.

Keith Shell met Quittelier through church in 1980, and they worked together over the years. He said Quittelier has an inquisitive mind, is caring and has a gentle touch with people. Shell said he’s enjoyed Quittelier’s perspective.

Hasse noted that her mother’s life has been filled with her friends and family. Quittelier has eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Overall, Quittelier says she has had good health over the years.

“I’ve never been sick in my life, that I remember,” she said.

Quittelier attributes her long life and good health to the acronym: N.E.W. (nutrition, exercise, water) S.T.A.R.T. (sunshine, temperance, air, rest, and trust in God).

Quittelier has been working recently with Brian Kennoy, director of outpatient services for Generation Care, on exaggerated hand movements to help enlarge her handwriting because her letters are small and she wants to write letters to family.

Quittelier said she enjoys physical therapy, which she does twice a week. At the end of each session, Quittelier said she feels like she’s done something good for her body.

“It’s helpful and the people are friendly,” she said of PT.

Quittelier has also worked with physical therapist Eric Bastian at Generation Care. He says working with her has been inspirational and encouraging.

Bastian attributes Quittelier’s success to her positive attitude.

“Anyone at any age has the potential to make positive change,” he said.

The community is invited to join in the celebration of Quittelier’s 100th birthday. The party will take place at the Grand Haven Seventh-day Adventist Community Service Center, 432 S. Beechtree St., from 5:30-7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1.

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