Rose Dolgy: Still cracking jokes and enjoying life at 106

Rose Dolgy, a spirited, quick-witted 106-year-old resident of Kensington Place, has lived a life filled with rich experiences, unwavering dedication, and remarkable resilience. Her story, woven from the threads of personal and historical milestones, offers a compelling narrative for those considering the transition to retirement living.

Rose Dolgy 1Growing up in Toronto and working in the family business|
Born and raised in Toronto, Rose’s early years living on Brunswick Avenue were rooted in her community and she soon learned the ropes at her father Moishe Grafstein’s fabric store, the family business. “I worked with my father when I was 8 years old, he’d say 'find those zippers with the thread'. I worked with fabrics,” Rose recalled, reflecting on the era’s emphasis on family duty and being industrious. In adulthood the fabric store became more than just a place of work for Rose; it was a cornerstone of her family’s livelihood and a hub of social interaction. “I met very interesting people. I met some actors and actresses. I met Sammy Davis Jr.,” she shared.

Marrying her husband and starting a family
The fabric store was where Rose Grafstein met her future husband, Mack Dolgy, a Jewish-Canadian soldier during World War II. “Jewish girls were told to go out and grab the guy and quick,” Rose chuckled, recounting the urgency of wartime courtships.

Rose Dolgy 2She married in 1945 aged 27, right after the Second World War when her husband returned from his service in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Once together Rose and Mack started a family. “I have four children,” she said, before adding with great comedic timing “so far.” Her partnership with her husband extended into their professional lives as they managed the fabric shop and other locations together for nearly three decades. “Me and my husband had a few stores,” Rose mentioned, highlighting the breadth of their entrepreneurial efforts and they worked until “they had enough money to quit” she added with a smile.

Early retirement
After retiring at 55, Rose continued her passion for fabrics by selling to loyal customers from her home. “Designers came to the house and bought fabric for their clients,” she said, demonstrating her enduring influence in the textile world. Rose also kept herself busy with her passion. “I would read every book I could find,” she added, highlighting her love of literature. She also travelled a little with her husband, visiting the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Rose Dolgy 3Life at Kensington Place
Many years later Rose would transition into retirement living at Kensington Place after living independently in her home after her husband passed. It was a significant change for Rose, prompted by a fall that impacted her mobility over a year ago. Despite this challenge, she has found a welcoming and supportive community. “The staff are good, everyone goes out of their way to be nice,” she said, appreciating the care and attention she receives. She was also drawn to Kensington Place by the people she knows there. “This is terrific because these are the people I grew up with,” she said. Her days are filled with activities that keep her engaged and entertained. “I like to watch the old movies,” she shared. The centenarian enjoys catching up on the classics she missed during her busy years at the fabric store.

Hobbies and good eating
Kensington Place has become a haven where Rose can indulge in her hobbies and enjoy the company of new friends. She reads books, newspapers, and magazines to stay informed and participates in games like poker with fellow residents. “I try to beat the men at poker,” she laughed, highlighting her competitive spirit. The food at Kensington Place also gained her approval. “I find the food very, very good,” she noted, a testament to the quality of the kosher menu at the predominantly Jewish residence. 

Rose Dolgy 6Rose’s advice to those contemplating retirement living is straightforward and encouraging. “Why not? Sure!” she said, suggesting that the benefits of such a community are well worth considering. Her own experience at Kensington Place, surrounded by people she relates to and activities she enjoys, exemplifies the positive aspects of retirement living. As Rose continues to enjoy her days at Kensington Place, her life serves as an inspiring example of how to embrace the later years with grace, activity, and a sense of belonging.

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