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Artist Marilee Shapiro Asher is 102 years old, reading from her autobiography in May, 2015. (YouTube/Linda Hansell)

Role models

Meet Marilee and Mabel, two working women over age 100

By WITW Staff on November 17, 2015

Want to know the secret to long life? According to two centenarians, the answer is not limiting yourself by your age. Marilee Shapiro Asher, 102, is an artist who has worked in ceramics, bronze, paper, and steel over the course of her career, and most recently began to experiment with color and digital prints after taking a class to learn Photoshop at the age of 88. Her last art show was in 2012, and her first in 1938. This year she published her autobiography, Dancing in the Wonder for 102 Years, in which she wrote: “Working with clay meant placing your fingers into the very stuff that is you — home at last.”

Mabel Sawhill is 103 years old and worked as a schoolteacher until World War II when she decided to serve at the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Nowadays she works actively as a caterer — a career she launched at age 70. The number of centenarians in the US has nearly doubled in the past 30 years to a total of almost 55,000 people.

Mabel Sawhill celebrating her 100th birthday in 2013. (Facebook/Cathie Jackson Showalter)
Mabel Sawhill celebrating her 100th birthday in 2013. (Facebook/Cathie Jackson Showalter)

“In the studio, with an ongoing project in which I am absorbed, time does not exist,” wrote Asher. “So here I am, essentially old, by some odd act of grace or luck, I’m still able to make reasonably small sculptures and work with the computer.

“Looking back, would I have rather been doing something else? I think not. The creative process is a struggle. It involves all of one’s attention and intuitive powers. This struggle, this pursuit of a vision or an idea is what I have always loved to do.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post and listen to Asher read from her book here.


Woman, 100, works 6 days a week and 11-hour shifts each day