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Lifelong learner marks 100th birthday

When Dr. Helen Dexter began her medical practice on Druid Road 56 years ago, she was one of the first female dermatologists in the area. She remembers accepting payments of whatever people could afford, occasionally even trading medical services for poultry and produce.

Dr. Dexter celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends on a boat tour around Lake Placid, N.Y., followed by a lakeside dinner at Round Lake Farm.

She was born Helen Louise Taylor on July 28, 1908, in Cincinnati to William Jordan Taylor, a physician, and his wife, Katherine.

A lifelong learner, family members recall if there was ever an unanswered question over dinner, Dr. Dexter would consult the encyclopedia for the answer. At one of her recent celebrations, she teased, "I hope you're all here when I'm 200!"

At age 12, she left her hometown to study in France. Later, she majored in archaeology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. After graduation, she had the opportunity to work on an excavation in Russia. Dr. Dexter returned to attend Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and, while enrolled in pre-med courses, met her future husband, Morris William Dexter, M.D., who was teaching bacteriology.

The couple were married in 1935 and have a son, Will Dexter of Barto, Pa.; two daughters, Lissa Dexter of Belleair, and Helen Dalzell of Clearwater; and four grandchildren, Richard Potsubay of Seattle, David Potsubay of Las Vegas, Jordan Dexter of Barto, and Liz Dalzell of Clearwater.

After moving here in 1952, Dr. Dexter's husband held the position of chief of cardiology and assistant chief of medicine at the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines from 1952 until he retired in 1983. He died in 1992.

Dr. Dexter is one of the founders of the Girls Clubs of Pinellas County. She is a former president of the Southeastern Dermatological Association and was honored by the Retired Physicians of Morton Plant Hospital.

After retirement, Dr. Dexter and her husband traveled the world to collect bromeliads and orchids. She served two terms on the Belleair City Council. Until a few years ago, she swam 45 minutes a day, rain or shine. At 100, she continues to attend weekly meetings for retired physicians at Morton Plant Hospital.

Dr. Dexter's philosophy about living a long life?

"I never think about my age," she said.

• • •

Harold Franklin Hecker of Largo recently celebrated his 106th birthday. He was born July 24, 1902, the fifth of 12 children born to Frank and Marietta Hecker of Nashville, Mich.

A devout Christian, Mr. Hecker offers his secret to longevity. "I never drank, never smoked and lived a good, clean life practicing the Golden Rule."

After completing the 10th grade, he got a job selling shoes in a Hastings, Mich., department store. He was later employed by the Upjohn Co. in Kalamazoo, Mich., and remained there until his retirement in 1970.

He married Geneva Christian in 1925 and the couple enjoyed 67 years together until Mrs. Hecker died in 1992. The couple have a son, Louis Hecker of Kalamazoo, Mich.; a daughter, Louanna Dempsey of Mesa, Ariz.; and six grandchildren.

Mr. Hecker's favorite baseball team is the Detroit Tigers and he is a devoted fan. In his younger years, he enjoyed bowling and was shuffleboard champion of Bay Ranch, a mobile home park he and his wife lived at for many years.

He and his wife are former members of St. Paul United Methodist Church, Largo.

• • •

Orville M. and Shirley G. Tucker of Clearwater recently celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary.

The couple were high school sweethearts at St. Charles High School, St. Charles, Mo., and married June 25, 1944, in Mojave, Calif.

The Tuckers came here in 1966 from Atlanta, where they owned and operated Tucker Piano and Organ Co. Locally, the couple owned and operated three Tucker Piano and Organ stores for many years.

The Tuckers are some of the original residents of Island Estates and have lived there for 42 years.

Mr. Tucker is a Marine Corps veteran of World War II.

They have six children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Lifelong learner marks 100th birthday 07/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 5:38pm]

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