Meet Our Oldest Living Alumna!
September 1, 2012
Dorothy Mastriena is a dog lover, a diehard Phillies fan (Jimmy Rollins is her favorite player), and she can polish off a cheese steak and plate of onion rings solo. She also celebrated her 102nd birthday last March and is the oldest living alumna of the College.
Born in Birmingham, Pennsylvania on March 19, 1910 on the Dupont farm where her family worked, Dorothy Darlington was the youngest of three children. As a child, she moved with her sister Sarah to West Chester where the girls attended primary school and enjoyed going shopping on Saturday nights. Dorothy then applied to the nursing program at Hahnemann University because she knew several other young women who also chose Hahnemann over the other few local options.
She can still remember the light blue chambray uniform and white cap she wore at Hahnemann. Dorothy and her friends were bothered by the way the hats fit and would push them back on their heads until the professors demanded that the students move them back to their hairlines. “They were more strict back then,” Dorothy said.
In the 1930s, Hahnemann nursing students boarded two or three to a room on the second floor of the hospital. There were strict curfews and rules about noise and messy attire, Dorothy explained, saying “You weren’t smart, because if you got smart you’d be punished.” When the women left the hospital, they could usually be found around the corner at the drugstore having a soda or at the local movie theater.
Dorothy and her 85 classmates graduated in 1931. For many decades, Dorothy kept in touch with her classmates and attended countless reunions and get-togethers. She and her roommates each became private duty home care nurses in the area. “You got into a lot of responsibility when you were home alone with the patient,” she said. In 1948, Miss Darlington became Mrs. Mastriena when she married her husband Joe, with whom Dorothy remains very close.
Today, Dorothy lives in the same Havertown home she shared with Joe since they were married. At 102 years old, she lives independently and takes care of 10 year-old Kiki, a fox terrier that Dorothy has had since she was a puppy. When we interviewed her, Dorothy moved about the first floor of the house, calling for Kiki to come and join us. Dorothy ate a cheese steak and onion rings for lunch and shared a few bites with the dog below the table.
What’s Dorothy’s secret to a long and healthy life, you may ask? “I didn’t smoke or drink, I ate good food, I worked hard, and I was happy,” she explained. Her nephew added, “Aunt Dot has a positive outlook on life. She takes things—like stress—in stride.”