Milford woman turns 100: Says to live long, you must 'accentuate the positive'

Dorothy May Winkler Paul said she thinks the secret to long life is happiness.

The Milford woman turned 100 on Thursday, celebrating with family and friends at her home at Carriage Green.

Hardly looking much more than 80 years old, Dorothy said a lot of people have been asking lately about the secret to longevity. She pondered the question, and then it came to her in a dream, sort of.

“I woke up with a song in my head,” Dorothy said. “It goes, ‘You have to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”

“I take a day at a time,” she added. “I think positively.”

Frieda Becker sat nearby at the birthday celebration. Frieda, who is 104 years old, agreed. Frieda has said several times that she thinks being happy with what you have helps keep a person healthy.

Dorothy was born in New York City on Friday, May 2, 1913 to Edmund Walter and Barbara Schroeder Winkler. She was the second of three children.

The family moved here when Dorothy was nine years old, into a house that stood where the old M&M Farms building is today. She attended Central Grammar School and then Milford High School, graduating in 1931.

Looking back, Dorothy said times were much simpler then. There were only 10,000 people in Milford when she was younger, and life didn’t seem so rushed. “It was a lovely New England town,” she said, recalling time spent at the Capitol Theater downtown watching movies and at Town Hall, where there were concerts and other kinds of entertainment.

On January 7, 1934, she married Howard William Thompson, and the couple had a daughter, Barbara Carol, on Aug. 9, 1935.

Dorothy’s first job was with an attorney in New Haven. She left the position when she was six months pregnant. At that time women did not work beyond their second trimester of pregnancy. She also worked as a secretary at Norden Company in Milford and was for many years an administrative assistant to the manager of Macy’s in New Haven.

After Dorothy was widowed, she married Winfred Joseph Paul on July 14, 1973.

“Dorothy’s great love for travel has led her to visit many countries in Europe, various islands in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexico,” states a proclamation that Mayor Ben Blake read in her honor on Thursday. “She also enjoys making silver jewelry and ceramics, as well as playing word and mind games.

“She and her friends enjoy a competitive game of Scrabble and she takes great pleasure in defeating her granddaughter,” the proclamation continues.

Dorothy also gardens, likes music and plays the piano.

She also has a big family, some of whom traveled a great distance to be with her on her birthday.

Dorothy has five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Kyle McKinney, who said she is ‘Grandma Dot’s’ first grandchild, said family traveled from as far away as California to be in Milford for the celebration. She credited her grandmother with being a vibrant part of the family, providing grandchildren with advice and help during trials and tribulations.

Granddaughter Karen Ballard said she couldn’t have made it through some tough times without her grandmother.

In addition to Mayor Ben Blake issuing a proclamation for Dorothy’s birthday, Gov. Dannel Malloy issued one, and it was read at the celebration.