The word retirement conjures up images of something less than excitement.
The process of ceasing to work or leaving one’s job is what comes to mind for some and yet Dorothy Doss, with more than 90 years of history behind her, continues to appreciate the life she has led as part of a legacy that has influenced Weatherford from its earliest days.
The Doss family has its origins in those early days of the Texas frontier.
They were among the settlers in Texas in 1855 and were awarded 160 acres of land in Parker County.
“My husband’s ancestors came to this area in 1855 and at that time every male 21 years old could claim 160 acres of land,” Doss said. “And if he lived on it three years, the state of Texas would grant him a patent and it was his.”
Born and raised in Weatherford, Dorothy met her future husband, James Houston Doss Jr., during one of the summers of her early life.
“One summer I had a summer job (at one of the banks) and at that time they had what was called a clearinghouse where each bank would send a representative to meet with a representative from the other two banks; there were three banks at that time and they would exchange the checks that they had cashed on each other.
“That’s where we met each other and that’s where we got to talking,” she said. “So we had decided to have a date. That was the beginning of a wonderful life.”
While Doss’s husband passed away in 2000, Parker County history and her husband’s history were preserved through the construction of the Doss Center, which opened in 2006.
The stories of the olden days of the surrounding area, once relegated to one room inside the Weatherford Public Library, now had an entire building dedicated to the county’s past.
“My husband wanted the history of early settlers preserved,” she said. “Weatherford did not have a museum, so according to his wishes, we established the museum.”
Doss moved to a retirement home four years ago.
Her version of retirement, however, is different from what many may imagine.
She currently lives in the Stayton at Museum Way in the Fort Worth cultural district and finds herself surrounded by even more history.
The Stayton was opened in 2011 as a luxury residence for those who wanted to retire comfortably.
With a retirement home boasting of panoramic views of the Fort Worth skyline, Doss is far from a sedentary lifestyle.
“The staff and employees are all charming,” Doss said.
“They (retirees) come here for a lot of reasons but they don’t realize the friends they’ll make and the connections they’ll make,” said Scott Polzin, Stayton executive director.
Polzin describes Dorothy as one of the most active residents in a complex of 188 apartments.
“Ms. Doss really is an inspiration … I wish I could clone her,” he said.
“I have two friends here, also 93,” Doss said. “One of them is the most agile person you could imagine. She does water exercises … she does all the exercises I do and more … we have a 90s club.”
“We kind of have a tendency to brag about it,” she cheerily said.
“Growing old is not for sissies,” she added.
Doss likes being around other retirees and enjoys a sense of belonging.
“It gives you confidence and reassurance,” she said. “You know that you’re not the only one with the same experiences.
“I feel very blessed because it’s a wonderful place to live.”
With a daughter who lives nearby, and a granddaughter who visits on the weekend, Doss finds herself surrounded by those she cares about.
“I’ve been active all my life,” she said.
Part of that activity involves yoga classes and continuing to educate her local residents at the Stayton on Parker County history by offering them opportunities to go to the Doss Center.
“I’m glad they enjoy it,” she said. “I’m grateful that people go to the museum and it’s used for lots of different kinds of things.”
Dorothy views the history of Parker County as something that can affect anyone.
“It’s interesting, especially if they’re Texans and they can relate to it because of their own experiences,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the wonderful life that the Lord has given me. I can’t keep from showing it.”