It’s not every day that a 105-year-old woman will sing you a song in Hungarian.
But on Friday afternoon, Aurelia “Dolly” Scott sang during her birthday party at Nye Square in Fremont.
Family and friends gathered to celebrate.
Scott was clearly impressed.
“I’m just flabbergasted that this many people showed up,” she said as well-wishers flowed into the sunny, multi-windowed room. “It’s amazing. I think it’s about the nicest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
What’s the secret to living so long?
“I tried to be a good lady and I ate my veggies like my mom said,” Scott mused.
Scott’s sons, Jeffery and Doug, who came from Colorado to celebrate their mom’s milestone, think her reason for long life could lie in her genes. Her mother lived to be 102 and her dad until he was 95. A sister lived to be 96.
She didn’t smoke or drink.
And, apparently, she got some exercise.
“My brother and I would get into it and she’d get mad and chase us around the dining room table with a wooden spoon seeking retribution,” Doug said, smiling.
Their mom did mention that discipline is a key to raising good children.
How did her children turn out?
“Perfect,” she said.
Scott seemed to think her party was perfect, too, as she ate chocolate cake and visited with family.
Nearby, guests meandered past a table filled with photographs of Scott in younger days.
Scott’s father, Mathias, and mother, Rose, came to the United States from Hungary. Her dad was a barber and her mom, a homemaker, states data from Nye Square.
Scott was born in Chicago on April 14, 1913 — the year Woodrow Wilson became president and thousands flocked to observe the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
She was a little girl when her mother taught her a song in Hungarian — the song she sang for some guests at her party.
Growing up, Scott played games like hopscotch and hide and seek. She had a doll and her brother, Joe, had a bicycle, but wouldn’t let Aurelia or their sister, Anne, ride it.
Scott walked to grade school with her siblings and later would pay 7 cents to ride a street car to high school.
Ruth Kuhn, who works for Home Instead Senior Care, also said Scott has told stories of growing up in Chicago during the “bad old days” of gangsters.
“She said you had to be very careful and watch the streets and it wasn’t always safe,” Kuhn recalled.
Scott joined the Girls Athletic Association and enjoyed playing basketball, volleyball and field hockey.
“I loved athletics,” Scott said in a 2015 Tribune article. “I was pretty good, come to think of it.”
Scott graduated from high school in 1931, but said she didn’t go to college, because she wanted to make some money.
Her first job was as a secretary, typing, filing and taking dictation.
She worked in Chicago at Perkins Products. Edwin Perkins had invented Kool-Aid when he lived in Hastings, then moved his production from Nebraska to Chicago in 1931.
Like many people from that era, Scott enjoyed listening to the radio and her favorite show was “Fibber McGee and Molly.”
In 1936, she married Ernest James “Buster” Scott, but they couldn’t afford a honeymoon during those economically tough times.
The Scotts did enjoy fishing and liked riding horses through Jackson Park.
They had two sons, Jeffrey and Doug.
“She was a great mother,” Jeffrey Scott said. “She loved her family and took good care of us.”
Scott also would spend much of her life volunteering for organizations, including Goodwill and her church.
One of Scott’s most exciting moments occurred when she received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Paul II in gratitude for her 25 years of faithful support of the Benedictine Mission in Schuyler.
“We pray frequently together,” Kuhn said. “Her religion is very important to her.”
Scott moved into Nye Square in 1993. She is the oldest person there and the one who’s lived the longest at Nye Square.
She still lives on the independent living side of the building.
Scott also is known for having made kolaches, which she formerly baked at least twice a week to share with Nye Square tenants.
She remains bright and alert. She enjoys listening to the news and having a caretaker read the newspaper to her.
Scott can complete newspaper puzzles quickly.
Although Scott cannot see, a caretaker will read a crossword puzzle, telling her the number of letters. She can quickly tell the word.
“She seems to have a Wonder Woman vocabulary,” Nye Square information states.
Scott also has many “loves” — like John Wayne movies, root beer floats, food from Burger King and Dairy Queen and dogs, especially dachshunds and Katie the Comfort Dog, the latter of whom visits regularly and came to her party.
During the party, Scott bent over to pat Katie on the head as party guests took photos.
Guests also passed by a table where a large cake, decorated with pink and purple roses, read: “Happy 105th Birthday Aurelia.”
Kuhn smiled while talking about Scott.
“She is the most wonderful client you could ever work with — extremely polite and very smart, an amazing sense of humor and every once in a while you’ll get a fun, little tale from her,” Kuhn said.
Jeffrey Scott wondered if his mom is the oldest person in Nebraska.
He doesn’t know if that’s the case, but does have a theory about something else:
“I have a hunch she’s going to keep setting longevity records,” he said.
Nebraska state Treasurer Don Stenberg made several stops in Dodge County county schools on Friday, talking finance, handing out checks for unclaimed property and fielding questions from students.
At a town hall with Johnson Crossing fifth graders, Stenberg also answered student questions about his job, whether he would run for governor, about a meeting with Donald Trump before he was president and more.
The Johnson Crossing town hall was organized to congratulate students who had completed the Vault program, a free, state-sponsored online financial literacy program offered to grade school students through the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST).
“Whatever you do, whether you work for a paycheck, whether you have your own business, whether you’re a teacher whether you’re an electrician, doesn’t matter,” Stenberg told the students. “All of you will need to understand finances and spending and how to be responsible so you don’t get into financial trouble, which all too many people do.”
Stenberg also offered financial advice—”You need to spend less than you earn,” he said—and suggested that, as students begin looking at financing their college educations, they save money from summer jobs and look into scholarships.
He also pointed to NEST, a state-sponsored college savings program which offers tax advantages that can help families save for education.
When asked if he would run for governor, Stenberg, who is term limited this year, said that he wouldn’t.
“The governor’s become a pretty good friend and I’m supporting him for his re-election campaign,” Stenberg explained.
After Stenberg shared that he had met Donald Trump before he was president, a student asked him about the experience.
“Donald Trump is a very interesting guy,” Stenberg said. “He’s not lacking in self-confidence—that was kind of the biggest thing I learned from the speech that he gave us.”
Earlier in the day, Stenberg also visited Arlington High School to participate in a round-table discussion on financing college education, student debt and more with students who had completed another financial literacy program geared toward high school students, called the Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars program.
“They’ve got a really great program at Arlington High School for financial literacy,” he told the Tribune. “They require every student to take a financial literacy course in order to graduate, and personally, I’d like to see the state of Nebraska require that for every school.”
Stenberg also made a stop at Midland University, where he presented president Jody Horner with an unclaimed property check for $4,153. The money was from 11 different properties, including more than $3,900 in death benefits from the Midland National Life Insurance Co. for a longtime Fremont resident and business owner, Verna Hudson, who died in 2011.
Stenberg told the Tribune that he made the trip to Fremont to highlight that the NEST financial literacy programs used by Arlington and Johnson Crossing are available to any grade school in the state.
“We’re very happy 300 or so students here in Fremont that did take advantage of the program,” he said.
He added that he has personal ties to the area—he grew up in Tekamah, and his daughter recently moved to Fremont.
Nebraskans will vote in gubernatorial, state and other local primaries on May 15. For residents of Fremont and Dodge County, there are several noteworthy races taking place.
At the county level, there are four Republican primary races.
The incumbent Dodge County Attorney Oliver Glass will seek the nomination over a challenger, Fremont lawyer Bryan Meismer. The winner will go on to the general election to face Democrat Pamela Lynn Hopkins of Nickerson, who, without an opponent, is automatically chosen to be the Democratic nominee.
For Dodge County Register of Deeds, three candidates are seeking the nomination. That includes the current Register of Deeds Carol Givens, along with two challengers: Michelle Growcock and Terry Synovec. All of the candidates are from Fremont and no Democrats have filed for candidacy.
Meanwhile, two members of the Dodge County Board of Supervisors face primary challengers. District 1 Supervisor Rob George will face challenger Bob Bendig and District 7 Supervisor James Vaughan faces two challengers: Doug Backens and Kirk Brown.
There’s one primary race for Fremont City Council, which is a non-partisan race, meaning that there are not separate Republican and Democrat primaries. Incumbent Councilman for the Second Ward Steven Landholm is up against Jim Bloom and Glen Ellis. The top two candidates from that primary will advance to the general election.
At the city level, there’s also three bond issues up for consideration on primary day. One would construct an addition to the Fremont Splash Station, another would construct an addition to Keene Memorial Library and the third would renovate Fremont City Auditorium. Each bond issue is slated for an amount not to exceed $2 million.
Statewide, Gov. Pete Ricketts faces a primary challenge from Krystal Gabel of Omaha. There’s also a three-way Democratic Primary between Omaha residents Vanessa Gayle Ward, Tyler Davis and Bob Krist. There are two candidates for the Republican primary for Secretary of State — Bob Evnen and Debra Perrell—and two candidates in the Republican primary for state treasurer—John Murante and Taylor Royal.
There are primaries for other state offices that have only one candidate running — like the Republican primary for Auditor of Public Accounts, where former Fremont City Councilman and State Sen. Charlie Janssen is running for re-election. While these primaries only have one candidate, votes are still tallied. At the county level and below, candidates who are running unopposed are automatically nominated to run in the general election, according to Dodge County Clerk Fred Mytty.
There are also two crowded primaries for the U.S. Senate. Incumbent Sen. Deb Fischer will face primary challenges from fellow Republicans Jack Heidel, Dennis Frank Macek, Jeffrey Lynn Stein and Todd Watson. And on the Democratic side, Fremont resident Larry Marvin is up against Jane Raybould, Frank B. Svoboda and Chris Janicek.
Mytty, a Democrat who is seeking re-election unopposed, said the county usually sees voter turnout of about 30 percent during the gubernatorial primaries.
“Gubernatorial is less than presidential with the exception when Dave Heineman was governor,” Mytty told the Tribune. “He was from Fremont, so we had a surge that year.”
The presidential primaries usually come in at about 40 percent.
The primaries also bring out fewer voters than the general election in November, which usually has a voter turnout rate of about 60 to 70 percent.
“All you’re doing in a primary is just to get nominations narrowed down for the general election, so sometimes, I don’t know, the average person maybe feels, let other people decide who that nomination is,” Mytty said.
The last day to register to vote via mail or online is April 30. Registration also can be done at the county clerk’s office until 6 p.m. May 4. Dodge County currently has 22,012 registered voters.
As of April 9, the county has opened up early voting, inviting those who applied for early voting to cast their ballots by mail. And as of Monday, voters can cast early ballots at the County Clerk’s office. Early voting at the election office can take place until May 14, the day before the primary.
In 2016, 818 voted early in the primary, Mytty said. That’s compared to 589 in 2014. Both years had similar voter turnouts.
“We think that it’s becoming a trend of voters’ habits,” Mytty said. “There’s still many that want to go to the polls as a patriotic act of doing things. But for convenience’s sake, there’s people that like to vote early.”
The only people who need I.D. to vote are those who have registered to vote by mail and have never voted in an election before, Mytty added.
Ahead of primary day, the county is looking for election workers to help at the polls. Those workers are paid minimum wage for their help.
“We need them in various places throughout the county, so we’ll take any call from anybody,” Mytty said.
On election day, the polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s important to come out that day and perform a civic duty, Mytty argued.
“It’s that old argument that you can’t gripe if you haven’t voted,” he said. “We should take pride in being part of a country where you have the ability to vote for your leaders and your issues. We have three (bond) issues for the city of Fremont. That’s your pocketbook that you’re talking about.”