Lifestyle & Human Interest

WWII Vet Celebrates 100th Birthday, Shares Words of Warning About Today's Youth


Dorothy Lassig from Stewartville, Minnesota, turned 100 years old on April 4. She has 15 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and possesses a very sharp wit.

“I’m 100 years old, I don’t have too much time to do this,” she told interviewers as they got ready for their interview, according to KTTC.

And when asked what advice she had for people who would like to reach the grand old age of 100, she replied, “I have never been this old before, so I haven’t got any advice for them.”

Perhaps it was her challenges and the difficult circumstances surrounding her childhood that shaped her into the feisty woman she is today and drove her to pursue the challenging career she took on.

Though she didn’t want to speak much of her childhood, she did say that it placed a heavy responsibility upon her young shoulders from a very early age.

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“My father left us when we were toddlers,” she said, according to Fox News. “I had two brothers and a baby sister. I was the oldest and our mother left us a few years later. We were turned over by our Lutheran pastor to our maternal grandparents on a farm that they rented.

“All my life, because I was the oldest, I’ve been told, ‘Do this’ and ‘Do that’ and ‘Look after them’ — all my life.”

Things didn’t necessarily get better, and Lassig recalled the new stresses that the war brought to their lives.

“We had a really deep depression,” she said. “There were no jobs for anybody really. And we were attacked. Pearl Harbor did a lot to us. When something like that happens, it’s a lot different than it is nowadays.

“You don’t even stop to think about it. It’s just something you have to do.”

She wanted to help, but she couldn’t join the Navy hospital corps until she was 20 years old. So, on her 20th birthday, she joined up, became a pharmacist’s mate third class, and was stationed in Key West, Florida.

“Ships would come into the harbor, and we would get people and field-dress them,” Lassig said.

“We called it field-dressing even though they were in the Navy. We would stabilize them and then send them on closer to their homes.”

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“Although people didn’t understand why we girls were in there,” she added, KTTC reported, “it was important as we were taking the place of men, so they could go to the front.”

She served for two years and eventually got married and had 8 children. Her interest in the medical field never went away, though, and at the age of 49 she went back to school to become a licensed practical nurse, Fox reported.

From then until 72 she continued to work — mainly in obstetrics — and still finds medicine fascinating.

“Just think, penicillin was invented in 1929 and in World War II, we were still trying to figure out how we could use it,” she said. “Also, I have two granddaughters with diabetes. Diabetes is strong in our side of the family, but there was no insulin for diabetics until sometime in the ’30s.”

She’s been a widow now for 43 years and mostly spends her time with family, napping with her senior dog Sadie, and drinking lots of coffee. She used to square dance, but she had to quit when she turned 92.

Reflecting on her life, she said that her happiest and most difficult days both revolved around family: The day her first son was born, and the day one of her sons committed suicide.

“You don’t forget it either,” she said.

She declined to share anything too personal or advise people on how to live to reach 100, but she did have some things to say about modern society.

“People have asked me if I want to go back to the old days, I say no, been there done that,” she said, according to KTTC.

“I don’t wanna go back, I would like to say a lot of this wireless stuff has gotten us into a lot of trouble,” she added, laughing.

She also believes the youth of today do too much partying.

“I wish they would get a little more backbone,” she admitted, Fox reported. “Hard work is not as important to some kids today. I think the pandemic did a lot toward that.”

As far as birthday wishes go, the great-grandmother only has one thing she’s asked for, for many years, but every year the answer has been “no.”

“I have a grandson who is a commander in the Navy as a helicopter pilot,” she said. “I’ve asked him, I don’t know how many birthdays now, to bring a Navy helicopter and give me a ride. But he says the Navy won’t let him do that.”

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