Alive & Kicking: Woman Enjoys Life At 82

LIVING

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Arlene Keefer is a woman on the move.

At age 72, she fell off the monkey bars playing with her granddaughter (she was not hurt).

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After Arlene Keefer saw someone doing kickboxing moves, her age did not stop her from enrolling in a class for the sport.

She won the gold medal in her age division, 70 to 79, in Payson Habitat for Humanity's 5K when she was 79.

Habitat made an 80-to-infinity category for Keefer and another contestant, the following year.

At age 80, she took up kickboxing.

Now, she is 82 and does yoga.

The diminutive bundle of energy can bench press 30 pounds for 15 repetitions.

And, Keefer absolutely loves to dance, especially with her boyfriend, Howard Johnson.

"I work hard physically, so I can stay away from pills," she said.

It might be hard to picture Keefer sitting still long enough to do a crossword puzzle, but that is how she keeps her mind sharp.

When she is not exercising her body or her intellect, she makes time to make a difference in the lives of others.

"How long have I been at the Payson Food Bank? Time goes by so fast -- four or five years anyway," she said.

Keefer will be the woman serving coffee and donuts at 7:30 a.m. the morning of the food bank's charity golf tournament.

People with a loved one in surgery may encounter Keefer in Payson Regional Medical Center's surgery waiting room, where she volunteers as a Pink Lady.

When she first started as a Pink Lady, a dozen years ago, the hospital was a nonprofit and she recalls holding bake sales to raise money for needed equipment.

Keefer's conscientious empathy with families in the waiting room may be both natural and an expression of her personal loss.

In 1999, she and her husband of 50 years, Robert, were in a devastating accident when the wind picked up their car and pitched it into the side of an 18-wheeler.

Arlene was in a "turtle shell" body cast and had casts on her right foot and left hand.

While Arlene was lying in terrible pain in the trauma center, sure her husband was not going to make it, a nurse shook her finger in Arlene's face and said, "You need to change your attitude. You have a loving caring family and you better start fighting."

"I started thinking, I wanted to see my grandkids grow up," Arlene said.

Robert spent four months in the Nevada hospital, but never recovered.

Her friend, Marie, who lived in Nevada, lost her husband from cancer at the same time.

The two friends held hands and sang "One Day At A Time."

"I wish I could tell kids, to never give up. Things are not as bad as they seem," Keefer said. "Work on it, give it to God and I feel good things will happen.

"If I knew that trauma nurse's name, I would tell her I am enjoying life again."

PROFILE

Name: Arlene Keefer

Hometown: Akron, Ohio

Age: 82

Occupation: Homemaker

When did you move to Payson? Father's Day, 1986.

What's the best advice you've ever been given? Be good to yourself.

Three things you want people to know about you: Once I make up my mind about something, I do it. I am enjoying life. I want kids to know to never give up.

Favorites

Books: Mystery novels with a romantic element

Music: Big Band era

Food: Mexican

Recreational activity: Dancing

Vacation spot: Hawaii

Sport to watch: Diamondbacks' baseball.

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