“I’m Just Happy with My Life”

July 2, 2019

“This is where the story begins.  I met a young lady in 1937; she was a freshman and I was a senior,” says 100-year-old Alfred Dotson of the day he met Ruth Riding, the woman with whom he would spend the next eight decades.

At the time, Mr Dotson was starting his final year at Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University), where he played on the tennis team and eventually earned a liberal arts degree.  Alfred and Ruth Dotson got married in 1939.  A few years later, Mr. Dotson joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II.  The ship he was on took part in the invasion of Okinawa, a battle that claimed more than 200,000 lives.  “The enemy was all around us,” he recalls.

The Dotsons moved to Washington D.C. after the war and Mr. Dotson served as head of the visual aids department for the Armed Forces Institute for Pathology.  As his career progressed, so did his family – he and Ms. Dotson raised a daughter and two sons.  Mr. Dotson retired in 1977 and he and Ms. Dotson returned to Austin.   But retirement didn’t mean taking it easy.  He immediately began volunteering his time performing community service.  He also got involved at his church, Ebenezer Baptist.

The Dotsons started receiving our home-delivered meals in 2013.  Sadly, Ms. Dotson passed away late last year, just two months shy of the couple’s 80th anniversary.

Our dedicated volunteers still deliver meals and companionship to Mr. Dotson.  One of them, Tesa Harding, does so as part of the Texas Music Educators Association’s volunteer team.  “He’s been an inspiration to our whole group.  We knew his wife and were so sorry about her passing.  It’s just a joy to know Mr. Dotson,” says Ms. Harding.

Mr. Dotson looks forwards to the visits and safety-checks.  But he’s still a volunteer himself.  He teaches Spanish twice a week at the Conley-Guerrero Senior Center and sings in his church choir. “I’m just happy with my life, all the way through.  I thank the Almighty who has moved spaces for me to walk,” he says.

At 100 years old, Alfred Dotson’s story is still being written.  All of us at Meals on Wheels Central Texas are deeply honored to help him, and thousands of others of our older neighbors, live independent, dignified lives in their own homes.