Young in Spirit
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they begin to slow down and retire. For 101-year-old Mary Alice Hansen, that time hasn’t come.
Mary Alice has been an employee and regular volunteer of the Church for over twenty years.
“She keeps herself busy,” said Gail Findlay, assistant shift chairman in the Church Office Building. “I’m sure that’s why she’s still alive. She keeps herself very involved and very busy in things that are around her and in service.”
In 1965, Mary Alice’s husband, Arthur, died. She stayed in their home in Phoenix for several years before returning to Utah, where she grew up.
“For a long time I thought when I move to Salt Lake then I would [work for the Church],” Mary Alice said.
So at age eighty, Mary Alice started working at the Church Office Building. When she was told that she could have the job, Mary Alice asked the supervisor if she was even going to ask her how old she was.
“She said no… and I’ve just been busy every since,” Mary Alice said.
Currently, Mary Alice works every Friday afternoon giving tours to visitors and guests. She also goes to Welfare Square twice a week to work on baby kits, hygiene kits, school kits, and “what they happen to need to be done at the time,” said Mary Alice.
“None of us … feel we have any reason to complain or to slack because she holds the standard very high for us to live up to,” said Marge Beardall, shift chairman in the Church Office Building.
About a year and a half ago, Mary Alice slipped and fell while getting out of a car and broke her hip and wrist. Less than three months later, she was back to her regular routine.
“After she fell and broke her hip, I asked her one day … ‘Did you ever think you might never have walked again,’” said Barbara Despain, former shift chairman of Mary Alice’s shift. “She said, ‘No, that never occurred to me.’”
Some might think that at 101, your wit might be dulled from age, but that is certainly not the case with Mary Alice. “She just has a constant sense of humor,” Beardall said. “We just always have to stay alert; we just don’t know what’s going to come out.”
One day Mary Alice was eating lunch with some of her co-workers in the cafeteria of the Church Office Building. As she was paying for her food, a cafeteria worker came and carried her tray to her table. When she sat down her coworkers commented on how much special attention she was getting.
“It’s amazing what you can do if you limp a little,” was Mary Alice’s reply.
She does, however, have a secret that keeps her healthy.
“If you ask what her secret is to long life she’ll tell you cod liver oil,” Findlay said.
Though she might say it’s the cod liver oil she takes daily, most of the people she has met would agree that what really keeps this 101-year-old woman going is her positive attitude and genuine love for people.