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St. Petersburg bundle of spirit, intellect dies at 104

ST. PETERSBURG — Dorothy Carlson, a 104-year-old bundle of spirit and intellect, died peacefully Thursday morning after a brief illness.

Mrs. Carlson, a resident of Westminster Palms nursing center, was featured in a Thanksgiving St. Petersburg Times story about a friendship she had struck up with a Lakewood Estates resident whose husband had recently died.

Barbara Hartwell, 71, would visit Mrs. Carlson every Sunday, where they would discuss current events, gossip about British royalty and recite state capitals.

Mrs. Carlson was nearly blind and deaf, confined to her bed and on hospice care. But she could crack jokes and manage her financial affairs by telephone down to the last penny.

Her attorney, Michael Ostow, remembers a call two years ago from a woman at Mrs. Carlson's brokerage firm. The woman had just been assigned to handle the Carlson account.

"I said, 'Why are you calling me? Why don't you call Dorothy? And by the way, if you are going to keep this account, make sure you are really up on everything before you make that call.' She lasted a week. Dorothy fired her."

Mrs. Carlson, a native of Ohio, had no children or close living relatives. Ostow and Hartwell are arranging a private memorial service at Westminster.

Hartwell visited Carlson in her last hours Wednesday night. Mrs. Carlson did not speak, Hartwell said, but did open her eyes a few times and nod.

Mrs. Carlson died at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

"I'm grateful I had the opportunity to have her support and friendship this past year," Hartwell said. "It's amazing not just that she lived to be 104, but that she was able to make a difference in the lives of so many people. She knew everybody around her at the Palms. She talked with them and knew about their lives and made them feel important."

Dorothy Carlson, left, and Barbara Hartwell struck up a friendship through Hartwell’s regular Sunday visits.

LARA CERRI | Times (2010)

Dorothy Carlson, left, and Barbara Hartwell struck up a friendship through Hartwell’s regular Sunday visits.

On the Web

To read the Times' Thanksgiving about Mrs. Carlson and Barbara Hartwell; and to watch a video abut their relationship, go to

St. Petersburg bundle of spirit, intellect dies at 104 02/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 10:36pm]
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