Charlestown's Oldest Resident Has Some Advice on Life Through a Pandemic

Charlestown's oldest resident has battled hardships and two pandemics in her 104 years

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Living through one global pandemic is hard enough, but two? And a pair of World Wars? Well, Charlestown’s oldest resident, Irene Morey, has done just that.

Despite some hardships, she's lived a long, happy life, and says that everyone else can too.

“If you wanna be happy, be happy. If you’re going to be a grouch get off my couch!” she said.

At 104 years old, that positivity, and her faith, keeps her going.

As Charlestown’s oldest resident, Irene is a bit famous. You might see her big smile in the news or on a calendar. Irene was a leap year baby, and technically has only had 26 birthdays. She‘s living her best life today, but Irene’s upbeat spirit has gotten her through tough times. 

“I lived through the Spanish flu. No masks. No vaccine," Morey said. "My relatives had the flu.”

The 1918 Influenza pandemic happened during World War I, before World War II and The Great Depression. A century later, Morey is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, though not by herself.

Morey befriended her neighbor Amy Engelhardt and her comfort dog Harry at the beginning of the pandemic. Now, they're inseparable. Morey even cooks for Englehardt.

"I just couldn't believe that she was 104," Engelhardt said. "I cannot believe that. I work with the elderly, and I thought 'there's no way she's living independently through COVID bed by herself by herself.' Her resilience and her faith is unlike anything that I have ever seen.”

Overcoming hardship helps Irene cherish each day. That’s why she quit nursing years ago to become an artist. She still sketches today. 

Her inspiration was her late husband, Bob Morey. Bob was once a well-known painter himself, an aid to president John F Kennedy and a U.S. Marshal who designed the agency’s seal. Bob and Irene even attended John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

“We saw Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe," Morey said.

Morey would need her positive outlook when one of her two daughters — Sheila — died of cancer four years ago. She believes Englehardt and Harry’s friendship is divine intervention meant in part to help her heal. Englehardt even sits in the same chair that Sheila used to. Englehardt didn't know that.

"Well," Morey said. "I'm telling you."

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