Neighbor: Orene Whiteside

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 1, 2000

brings sunshine to state


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Nov. 30, 2000 10 PM

Orene Whiteside doesn’t have any "Bluegrass" secrets for living

to be a bright, perky 90-year-old.

But, she said, hard work never hurt anybody and a happy heart makes a healthy heart.

Mrs. Whiteside, a native of Kentucky, has been a Trojan for only four years, but, in that relatively short time, she has fallen in love with the town and its people and they have loved her back.

That was evident yesterday by the large number of friends who packed the Colley Senior Complex to wish Mrs. Whiteside a happy 90th birthday and many more.

Mrs. Whiteside said she didn’t feel 90 and she certainly didn’t look it or act it.

"I have been blessed," she said, with a bright smile. "I really have."

And, those who frequent the center have been blessed by knowing her.

"Every day that Orene walks into the center she brings in sunshine," said Mary Ann Casey, center director. "We are just so fortunate to have her among us. She makes the day brighter for everyone. She is a joy to know and a joy to be around. We are blessed by her presence."

Mrs. Whiteside moved to Troy in 1996 with her son, Dr. James Whiteside, eminent scholar in sports medicine at Troy State University. Immediately, she became a Trojan fan.

"I’ve always loved sports," she said. "Football and basketball are my favorites, although I do like to watch tennis, too."

Now, that she’s a Trojan, she said her favorite college football team is TSU but, when her son was the team physician for Penn State, the Nittany Lions were her favorite.

"Now, I’m a Trojan," Mrs. Whiteside said. "I go to every home football and basketball game that I can. I was disappointed that we lost in the playoffs but it was a good game anyway."

A loyal TSU fan, a true Trojan and a fixture at the Colley Senior Complex, Mrs. Whiteside has found her home – her "heart."

She was born in rural Western Kentucky and raised by her mother who was widowed at a young age with two toddling little girls.

Because of the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Whiteside’s father’s death, he will always be a part of Kentucky’s recorded history.

Mrs. Whiteside’s father, a constable in Lowes, Ken., was in the kitchen taking a bath in a galvanized tub when news came of a "ruckus" outside of town.

He went to investigate and was shot. He was loaded onto a buckboard to be taken to a doctor in nearby Mayfield, however, he died on the way.

That night, a group of men formed a posse and went after the man who had killed their constable. They found him and tied a noose around his neck. That hanging was the last one of record in Kentucky.

Mrs. Whiteside was only three years old when she lost her father but her mother displayed exceptional courage and strength and bravely shouldered the responsibility of raising two young children.

When Mrs. Whiteside was in her early teens, a young man came to town to work with the Illinois Central Railroad. The two met, fell in love and married – she, at an early age, which was common in those days. At the age of 15,

Mrs.Whiteside gave birth to her only child.

The family moved to Gary, Ind. where her husband worked in the steel mills and she stayed home to be a housewife and mother. That, she felt, was a noble calling and it was enough to make her life complete.

Mrs. Whiteside said she has not done anything out of the ordinary in her life, but her life has been a good and has brought her much pleasure and joy.

"I still look forward to every day," she said. "I do the things that I can that make me happy."

Her her son and his wife, Edith, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, her church and her friends are at the top of her list of "things that make me happy."

"I walk a mile every day and ride my bicycle – I’d rather walk than ride that bicycle," Mrs. Whiteside said, laughing.

"I enjoy coming to the senior center and I like scrap booking. I keep busy. I stay happy. Troy is a good place for me to be. I’m very happy here and I am so honored to have so many people come out and share my birthday with me. This has been a wonderful 90th