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DES MOINES, Iowa — Dorothy Thompson spent 105 years bringing joy into the life of family and friends. But just days before what would have been her 106th birthday, Dorothy died due to COVID-19.

Dorothy was an Iowan through and through, with her roots planted in the community of Garden Grove. She lived within 30 miles of her birthplace until she was about 100 years old. 

Her granddaughter, Val Thompson, remembers spending time on her grandparents’ farm.

“They had quite a bit of farmland for soybeans and other crops. They would have chickens and kitties, and we just loved being able to visit and play. They let us run wild,” said Val.

Val says her grandmother enjoyed gardening. They enjoyed growing strawberries, canning and baking with them.

“She would enter in all the fairs. I can’t even count all the blue ribbons that she won,” said Val.

Dorothy was best known for her pies – lemon meringue in particular.

“I never really learned all the secrets. I don’t think she wanted everyone to know all the secrets. She would be baking and not use an alarm clock and I’d be worried about it. She knew just by the smell and the time in her head,” said Val.

When Dorothy turned 100 years old, the town of Seymour honored her with the title of “Grand marshal” of the Old Settlers Parade.

Val says her grandmother wanted to keep moving and working, even when she moved into the nursing home at the age of 104.

“She said ‘I want to take care of myself … I’m going to get a job here.’ I said Grandma, if they had one for you, I know you’d get it,” said Val.

Val visited as often as possible, until she was told there would be no more visits because of COVID-19. Dorothy herself was diagnosed in April.

“The last time I talked to her I said, Grandma, you’ve got to beat this. She said ‘I’m going to try.’ And I know she did try really hard,” said Val.

Val said goodbye to Dorothy through Skype. While she couldn’t be by her grandmother’s bedside, a nurse was.

“She touched her for me, and that makes all the difference. Someone was there holding her hand and she could hear us,” said Val.