RPCV and Dance Enthusiast Van Shuler Celebrates 104th Birthday
By Erica Burman on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
In the past two years alone, Ledora Evangeline Shuler, or “Van,” (India 67-69) has tango-danced in Buenos Aires, traveled from Florida to Seattle to Arizona in her daughter’s mobile home and still remained “alert and alive” into her hundreds, according to friend and fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fran Kennedy (India 66-68).
Van, who celebrates her 104th birthday on June 4, has stayed active throughout her senior years. Some of her accomplishments include traveling to all seven continents—she went to Antarctica in her 80s—and incorporating dance into her lifestyle as much as possible, Kennedy says. Van s
tarted to dance with her mother in the 1970s after returning from overseas. “She’s been dancing ever since,” Kennedy says. In fact, Van’s 100th birthday party, sponsored by the city of Seattle, was a dinner-dance theme.
When she’s not practicing her moves, Van socializes with her dancer friends and listens to books on tape, according to her daughter, Lynn Chalmers. “She can’t watch [television] much [because of her eyesight], but she has enjoyed the audio books,” Chalmers says. “She particularly loves biographies.”
Van’s enthusiasm and good health led to her being “featured on an insurance company [commercial] getting people to invest for their senior years,” Kennedy explains. The commercial showed Van dancing and announcing her age, then 100, while advertising the importance of insurance.
On top of maintaining a “fabulous memory,” Van demonstrates the ability to quickly learn new dance steps, Chalmers says. “She does the Waltz and the Fox Trot…she can follow a lead very easily.” This year, Van will celebrate her birthday at various senior centers where she ballroom dances in the Seattle area, Chalmers says. “She’s never been one for a lot of attention; she’s very humble.” As Kennedy says, “She’s just a very wonderful woman.”