- Dorothy Custer:
- "I've had a wonderful life. I've had more fun than anybody could have had."
BOISE -- You would think a woman who raised four kids, lived through prohibition, and is a distant relative of General George Armstrong Custer would have a hard time topping that resume. But 100-year-old Dorothy Custer, life-long resident of the Magic Valley, has done it. Last summer, she went on national television and in the aftermath, became an internet sensation.
If you were to Google the name 'Dorothy Custer', you would get a long list of references to an old lady, and her time spent with Jay Leno. The same thing happens when Dorothy Custer Googles the name 'Dorothy Custer'.
"Every time I turn it on, all I can see is about half a dozen different ones about me," pointed out Dorothy.
When the centenarian sat down with Jay Leno in June, she made quite the impression. The conversation from the fabled couch caused a considerable stir across the World Wide Web. After posting the video clip on KTVB.COM, the link began spreading via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. It ended up being viewed more than 800,000 times, making Dorothy Custer and her harmonica the most watched video in KTVB.COM history.
She made such an impression on Leno, that they have invited her back to be "America's Sweetheart" on their Valentine's Day show.
KTVB's Brian Holmes asked Dorothy, "Do you know what the term viral means?"
Sweet Dorothy replied, "Well, I always thought a virus was something bad, you know?"
Now she knows that going viral made her an instant celebrity.
"They've got lots of good things on there, good things, I didn't think I was the... that kind of embarrasses me. Really? You're not... well, they like me that's fine, I'm glad," said Dorothy when she learned of her new status.
So how did she go from Hansen High School, class of 1927 to an appearance on Jay Leno 84 years later? For as long as Dorothy could remember, the former teacher liked to perform and even created characters for local productions. Last summer, she was named the Pioneer of the Year for Twin Falls' Western Days Parade, for the second time.
An associate producer of The Tonight Show, who grew up in Twin Falls, found out about Dorothy. That was all it took for her to board a plane from Boise and show her skills on the harmonica for The Tonight Show audience of millions.
Dorothy picked up the harmonica when she was 12, and now it is part of her daily routine, between exercising, sewing, and the occasional lunch with her son, Neal.
While her eyesight and her hearing may be fading, she plans to keep going one day at a time, with no regrets.
"When they asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday if I make it," Dorothy explained. "I said, 'Well, maybe I'll skydive!'"
Until then, we can always find her just a few clicks away.
"Well, I've enjoyed every minute of it but I just gotta laugh 'cause I think, me of all people," she laughed.
Dorothy Custer is not just an entertainer. Having also been a teacher in her lifetime, she has taught us a very important lesson:
"You know, I think it's too bad so many people get older and think 'Oh, I feel bad.' You don't think of that, you look forward, you don't think about it. I have no time for that. I don't think of age, I don't think I'm this old," she said. "I've had a wonderful life, I've had more fun than anybody could have had."
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