WARSAW, Va. – Rosella Tolley has seen a lot change in her 105 years. Born in January of 1913, her arrival predated World War I and women having the right to vote, and the average life expectancy for a woman was 51.1 years. Earlier this week, Tolley gathered with family, friends and neighbors at The Orchard to celebrate with cake and balloons.
“It is not every day that we get to celebrate such an occasion or such a person,” noted Pam Doshier, administrator of The Orchard. “We were thrilled to plan a celebration that included residents who knew Ms. Tolley when she lived in our Assisted Living unit as well as neighbors in the Memory Support Household, where she currently lives.”
Born in Ohio, Tolley moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia at the age of 20. There, she married Denver Tolley and they turned her passion for cookie making into the Tolley Cookie Company. Her favorite cookie was oatmeal raisin, and she often gave cookies as gifts and even Halloween treats. And while cookies became the family business, Tolley was also well known for making excellent crab cakes.
“I’m honored in this job to know each of our residents personally and to help plan these kinds of celebrations,” said Jessie Tucker, household mentor at The Orchard. “Ms. Tolley is a very special woman with a fascinating past, and her personality - even now - is every bit as spunky.”
Tolley and her husband had one daughter and one grandson. They eventually sold their cookie company to Archway Cookies, which is still today best known for its Oatmeal cookies. In retirement, Tolley relocated full-time to their family cottage in Lewisetta, Virginia. She would spend the winter in Florida and return to the Northern Neck for the remainder of the year.
Tolley’;s, has helped care for Westbrook since 1998 when her only daughter was diagnosed and eventually succumbed to breast cancer at age 59. The two remain very close and, even though Tolley, her husband (Westbrook travels to The Orchard several times a year. She was there to help celebrate Tolley’;s thought the key for Westbrook was in always staying active.
“She loved to golf and walk, and would still walk the grounds of The Orchard up until about two years ago – at age 103,” Tolley’;s explains. “I also tease her that tiny ladies seem to live the longest.”
Westbrook enjoys bird watching and used to enjoy a glass or two of wine each night. When the time came for Tolley to move from her cottage into a community that offered continuum of care options, she insisted she wanted to stay in Virginia close to friends. The Orchard healthy living community has been a perfect fit for the last eight years.
“If I had my way, I would have brought her to Vermont to be closer to us,” Westbrook explained. “But it was her choice to stay and she still has friends that visit.”
Tolley received a bottle of wine for her birthday and she enjoyed a glass at her party. Even teasing Tolley when she poured the glass with a witty, “That’s all?” She enjoyed her cake and the company that surrounded her to celebrate. There were many hugs and lots of laughs.
“The Riverside mission is to care for others as we would care for those we love,” Westbrook added. “At The Orchard, our team embodies that mission because we consider our residents as family.”
“The staff at The Orchard all wanted to make the celebration special for Ms. Tolley and I think we accomplished that,” added Tucker. “And of course, we like to tease that if we ask her about her favorite part of the celebration she would probably say it was the wine.”
Described by many as a delightful lady, Westbrook had many friends and neighbors, as well as her family with her last week as she celebrated over a century of good living.
Published: January 26, 2018