Marion Russell Pine

Miss Independent: 104-year-old Marion Russell Pine from New Paltz

As a young girl, Marion Russell Pine, 104, moved with her family almost 30 times, living in Ohio, Texas, Washington, and Michigan. When she married and later moved to New Paltz in 1941, she remembers thinking, “I would get bored to death living in one town.” Perhaps it was the village’s artsy vibe that kept the lifelong painter — many of her works are hung around her house — settled for more than 60 years. Pine dedicated much of her life to raising two sons, and in 1957, when her husband died, she took over his funeral home. “I went to spend a weekend at the embalming school, but I never went to class,” she recalls. “I studied books, took a test of some kind, and passed it.” A diligent worker, she didn’t retire until 1988. Although she has never used a computer, she did keep up with many technological advances. “As soon as they had television, we got it,” she says. “And I remember when they put a man on the moon, but it didn’t seem as great to me as it did to everyone else.” As she aged, she remained both physically and socially active, walking one mile a day until she turned 100 and attending the Reform Church of New Paltz each Sunday. She also exercised her mind by constantly reading — particularly romance novels. “I’ve been reading for 1,000 years it seems,” she says. She attributes her long life to her positivity, and has some advice for young people: “Be as happy as you can. I mean it. It’s the most important thing.”

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