Oldest Surry Resident
Dorice Wright Kulik
May 8, 1908 -
November 15, 2012
Dorice Wright Kulik died suddenly on
November 15th at Cheshire Medical Center at the age of 104. She
was fiercely independent, living alone in her home, cooking her
own meals and caring for herself and home until her death. She
was born on May 8, 1908 at the Elliot Community Hospital in
Keene, New Hampshire. Dorice was the only daughter of Charlotte
Guillow Wright and Dr. Clarence A Wright, one of Keene's
earliest dentists. She is predeceased by her brother, Elliot A.
Wright, tax collector of Keene for many years. Dorice was a
graduate of Keene High School.
Read Complete Obituary
A century later, still going strong
Surry’s Dorice Kulik celebrates 101st birthday
Published: Sunday, May 10, 2009
Keene Mayor Dale Pregent
reads a proclamation to Dorice Kulik of Surry at Luca’s
Mediterranean Cafe on Wednesday. Kulik and her niece Diane Foley
of Rochester were celebrating Kulik’s 101st birthday.
hardened Yankee, fiercely independent, you don’t make a fuss
over Dorice Kulik. It’s not in her nature. Never mind that she’s
101 years old. So when Keene Mayor Philip Dale Pregent came by
Luca’s Mediterranean Cafe Wednesday to read a proclamation in
honor of her birthday — May 8, 1908, at Elliot Community
Hospital in Keene — Dorice listened appreciatively, but with a
hint of bemusement. And when a reporter asked a few questions,
she answered thoughtfully, though when it was time to go, it was
time to go.
“I really don’t like it when people make a
fuss over me,” she says.
It’s why she still lives alone
in Surry, a town she’s called home for the past 40 years. It’s
why the typical day consists of some household chores, a visit
to her husband, who’s in a nursing home, maybe a stop at the
library and a spirited game of Scrabble with whoever’s willing
to take her on. Staying busy keeps her mind sharp, she says.
Although Dorice has outlived everyone in her family — except
her husband of 71 years, John C. Kulik, and two nieces — she
approaches every day as a new adventure.
“My aunt is an
amazing person, very, very independent,” says her niece, Diane
Foley of Rochester, who drives to Keene for a visit almost every
“She’s old New England — simple, practical, frugal
... never, ever extravagant ... she’s just been very content
with not much.”
“We weren’t rich, but we always had
enough money to do what we wanted,” Dorice interjects.
Dorice, an accomplished seamstress, cooked lunch for her niece
at home two weeks ago, but on Wednesday they drove to Luca’s on
Main Street in Keene to celebrate Dorice’s birthday. It was just
the two of them — her other niece, Rita, lives in Houston, and
John and Dorice never had children of their own.
outlived all of their friends. The only semblance of
extravagance for her birthday was an appearance by the mayor and
and a healthy slice of carrot cake for dessert.
course, had it been circa World War I, when Dorice lived with
her parents and older brother at 370 Court St., they wouldn’t
have driven to Luca’s. They may have hitched a ride on the back
of an empty lumber wagon pulled by two oxen, keeping an eye out
for the ice wagons that passed by. Most likely they would have
walked into town, perhaps with her mother, Charlotte Guillow,
whose visits to the market were a daily routine.
father, Dr. Clarence Wright, was one of the first dentists in
“Dentists weren’t as popular as they are now. They
were kind of a novelty at that time,” Dorice says.
whose brother Elliot A. Wright was a longtime tax collector in
Keene, graduated from Tilden School and Keene High School. She
remembers acting in the school play and attending May Festivals
on the second floor of city hall — “it was a very big deal” —
but the pace of life, even a teen’s, was much slower in the
“Of course, everybody knew everybody back
then. And businesses were all run by Keene people, not like
now,” she says.
Dorice worked most of her life as a
medical secretary, first at Elliot and later Cheshire Medical
Center, but also for 10 years at Massachusetts General Hospital
in Boston, where she walked to work from her home on Beacon
Street. Her husband was a lifelong radio engineer, starting and
ending his career in Keene, but also around the world on ships
in the Merchant Marines during World War II. He wasn’t allowed
to join the military because of medical issues. They married in
“Here he is 93 now and back then they turned him
down because his heart was a little weak,” Dorice says. “Guess
it wasn’t that weak.”
Genealogy is a major part of their
lives, and the couple spent many summer vacations in Scotland
and France pursuing their passion. Dorice traces her heritage
back to 1650 Scotland; it even includes nobility, the Laird of
Achmed. She has volumes of documents at home, and is fascinated
not only by her family tree, but the personality of her
“I want to know what they were like,” she
says. “Of course, when you get to be my age, you’re interested
to see what they all died of.”
John and Dorice moved to
Surry about 40 years ago. Even last year, at age 100, she
single-handedly cared for him as his health declined and he
became homebound. She cooked, ran errands, made the meals, did
the laundry. And she’s an avid reader, with mystery novels her
“The more I read about things happening in the
world, I feel luckier and luckier. I never had any great highs
or great lows. I just count my blessings,” she says.
January, both Dorice and her husband fell and needed extra care,
so they moved into Harborside Healthcare-Westwood in Keene.
Dorice recovered and couldn’t wait to return home, but visits
her husband almost every day.
Foley admits she was
nervous when her aunt moved back home alone about a month ago,
but marvels over watching her aunt revert back to her old self.
Caregivers from Autumn Passages Eldercare in Keene come for
about three hours a day, but Dorice cherishes her independence.
They’ll take her grocery shopping, to see her husband and the
library. But forget housework and cooking.
“They send me
helpers but I do it all myself before they come,” she says. “So
we play Scrabble.”
Our thanks to Steve Gilbert a Keene
Sentinel editor for allowing us to use his column.
© 2009 The Keene Sentinel