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Dorothy Butts survived the Spanish Flu, and now COVID-19, as she turns 103-years-old

“You just keep on doing what you did. Just keep on keeping on,” said Dorothy Butts.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As we get through this pandemic, it’s important to stop and celebrate life.

It helps to appreciate what we do have and find the good in the moment.

Local 24 News Reporter, Brittani Moncrease, spoke with a Memphis woman who has more than a century’s long storage of memories and hope.

Let’s look at the past 100 or so years. This country has experienced the Spanish Flu, World War I and II, Civil Rights Movement, and now the coronavirus pandemic. Well, we spoke with one woman who was there for it all.

July 9, 2020 is worthy of attention.

“I’ll be 103,” said Dorothy Butts.

Butts is a Mississippi native who has made Memphis her home. She turns 103-years-old Thursday. 

“It doesn’t feel any different from yesterday. Just another day,” said Butts.

She is fully energetic and fully independent living at Lutheran Village

“Friends have been calling this morning. I could hardly get dressed. It was wonderful but can’t let anybody in to see me. That’s kind of hard,” said Butts.

When Butts turned 100, she had a huge celebration. 

“This place was full. Nearly 200 people came and went,” said Butts. 

However, there won't be party this year because of the pandemic.

“The virus is so different now. We just don’t know if any of us will survive or not,” said Butts.

Survival is something Butts knows all too well.

“I was born in World War I,” said Butts.

She was born in 1917.

“It was so different back then. Back in Mississippi where we lived, we didn’t have street cars or anything,” said Butts.

A year after her birth, the Spanish Flu shook the world. 

“My mother got the flu and almost died. We all survived,” said Butts. 

Then, the Depression came in the 1930s.

“We survived that. My dad was working and worked the whole time. We always had. We didn’t think we had plenty, but we did,” said Butts. 

At 19-years-old, Butts married and moved to Memphis.

“My husband was working. Back then wives didn’t work,” said Butts. “Today, it’s almost expected that the wife works.”

While times have changed, this survivor of the past and a witness to history offers great wisdom yet simple and sweet.

“Just keep on keeping on,” said Butts. “Just be friends with everybody. Smiling helps a great deal.”

Although Butts won't be able to be with her family for her 103rd birthday, Local 24 News wanted to wish her a happy birthday that could be heard throughout the Mid-South.

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