Age simply becomes a number when 83-year-old Doris Langton puts on her dancing shoes. Her charismatic personality captivates the audience and proves that not even a hurricane can break this Osher Lifelong Learning Institute member’s spirit.
"If I forget my steps, I'll just shake my hips," Langton said, as she prepared for a recent performance alongside fellow line dancing classmates at the institute's first talent show at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Langton, who also can demonstrate the electric slide, the waltz and the cha cha, is an example of how staying active at any age is vital to a person's quality of life and a main goal at OLLI.
"Mind, body and spirit, that's what we're after here," said Sue Pace, OLLI director. "When Doris first joined, she was on a walker. But now, she's line dancing."
Langton was first introduced to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute after moving to Hattiesburg in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina forced her from her Long Beach home.
"I didn't know anybody after I moved here," she said.
Langton quickly began educating herself about her new town and places she could go to meet people. She joined OLLI and began a Stretch and Flex course, which eventually led her to the more challenging dance class.
“This has been a new lease on life,” Langton said. "I've really gotten back into living."
Langton, who used her walker to alleviate a balance problem, has since graduated to using a cane. However, when performing, she prefers to be on her own, without the help of walkers or canes.
She has a word of advice anyone thinking about joining her at the institute, "This really takes your mind off of those aches and pains."
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, located in the Peck House on 3601 Pearl St. in Hattiesburg, provides educational opportunities designed to meet the needs of mature adults through seminars, field trips, luncheon lecture series, social activities and courses that do not require exams or homework. It is supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation, an organization based in San Francisco that seeks to improve quality of life for adults age 50 or older through support for higher education and the arts.
The institute also contributes to the Southern Miss community with the OLLI Scholarship fund, established in 1992 to award a $1,000 scholarship each year to assist a non-traditional student.
All Pine Belt residents interested in finding out more about OLLI are invited to enjoy refreshments and mingle with members during the annual Holly Jolly Holiday Social from 3-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Asbury Annex, located directly behind the Peck House.
For more information, call 601.261.1430 or visit http://www.usm.edu/olli.
Doris Langton of Hattiesburg performs the electric slide during a recent talent show at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at The University of Southern Mississippi. (Southern Miss Public Relations photo by Jeannie Peng)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.