LIVERMORE FALLS — When she was 80, Mildred Wright told the ladies in her widow’s group one morning that if only she were younger, she would love to volunteer for mission work down South.
Then, she went ahead and did it.
For the next 10 years she spent every May in Kentucky, part of the Christian Appalachian Project, with her friend Marge Pritsky.
“We were one of the first over-the-hill people they took,” said Pritsky. “You meet so many wonderful people. We were working with the elderly — that was the pot calling the kettle black.”
She stopped going down around age 90, but hasn’t let age stop her from other things since.
Wright, who will be 98 in July, only gave up driving homebound people around as part of a church program when she decided not to renew her license last year. Now, she volunteers use of her car instead. She’s still active with the Rebekah Lodge, a woman’s group affiliated with the Odd Fellows.
She’s been part of the community her whole life, though she draws some distinctions: Wright was born and raised in North Livermore. Marriage brought her to Livermore Falls.
“I like the smallness, the friendliness. The opportunities, too, are many,” she said.
She and her husband, Ralph, married in 1934 after meeting on a blind date. Before she retired, Wright was an orchard bookkeeper. Ralph was a successful Ford salesman. They were married just short of 50 years. A friend, she said wistfully, had already started to plan the anniversary party.
She’s able to live on her own with the help of friends and family and the company of her cats, Amber and Needham. A typed note on her door warns of a sharp sense of humor. Should she not respond fast enough to a knock: “If you’re a friend, better search the place, I may have run my final race.”
Wright said she really enjoyed the years going down to Kentucky. The first year, she volunteered to help out at a preschool. The kids ran her ragged.
“That was too much for an old lady,” she said.
After that, she sat and visited with people who often found themselves housebound. Some were younger than her. “They were so friendly and willing to share the little bit they had,” she said.
Pritsky, 86, still makes the trips and keeps Wright posted. She called her friend a terrific lady.
“I enjoy helping other people, and I am one that counts my blessings,” Wright said. “I guess that’s probably what drives me.”