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Lena I. Dionne, 111, witnessed world of change

Published Aug. 28, 2005

Lena I. Dionne lived through the Great Depression, seven major wars and 20 presidents.

She was 10 years old when Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the first machine-driven airplane.

And when the vote was extended to American women in 1920, she registered.

"You bet I registered to vote." Mrs. Dionne said in 2002. "I even marched."

Mrs. Dionne died Monday at Lexington Health and Rehabilitation Center in Kenneth City. She was 111.

Mrs. Dionne credited her longevity to reading and maintaining a healthy appetite.

"I've got to eat something to keep me going," she told the St. Petersburg Times in 2003.

At 109, she was reading three or four Harlequin romance novels a week.

"I love to read any kind of book. It keeps my mind going. I don't remember how long I've been reading them, but they are getting racier," she said.

On Mrs. Dionne's 110 birthday, the mayor of Kenneth City proclaimed it Lena Isabella Dionne Day, and she cruised in a 1951 Ford Custom at the head of a vintage car parade.

Mrs. Dionne was born Lena Tivey on June 14, 1893, in Lynn, Mass. She was the third child of five born to James and Isabella (Butterick) Tivey, who moved to Massachusetts from England.

Mrs. Dionne grew up working with her father in a patent leather shoe factory in Lynn, filling cracks in the shoes and packing them in boxes. She married Felix Dionne, also in the shoe business, on Nov. 20, 1909.

The couple settled in St. Petersburg in 1963 to be near their only son, George F. Mr. Dionne died a few years later.

Mrs. Dionne is survived by several nieces and nephews.

National Cremation Society in St. Petersburg is in charge.

Information from Times files was used in this obituary.