Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Volunteer still active at 98

Pauline Roller, 98, can't say for sure what her secret is for longevity. But staying active must be a part of it. Every Tuesday, the Key Largo resident can be found helping however she can at Mariners Hospital.

The Romanian native has volunteered at the Tavernier hospital for about 25 years, even before it was known as Mariners.

Of late, Roller has been spending time shredding confidential paperwork in the hospital's records department. But soon, she will be embarking on a new program that involves spending time with patients.

Her new role is based on the book, "The Art of Being a Healing Presence," by James Miller. The book teaches simple techniques for comforting medical patients. For her new role, Roller will be on call and will go to the hospital whenever she is paged.

Popular among the nursing staff at Mariners, Roller last year received a special award for her service which was displayed at the hospital for a year.

When asked last week if she volunteers with people her age, Roller smiled.

"My age? "No, nobody my age is [at Mariners]," she replied.

But she did say it's no longer uncommon for people to live longer, healthier lives.

"It used to be the president would call when you turned 100," she said. "And if you weren't married by the time you were 19, then you were an old maid."

Times have certainly changed.

Roller said she doesn't think of her life in terms of years.

"I never think about my age," she says. "I don't sit around feeling sorry for myself."

John Cooper, one of Roller's friends and an Islamorada resident, said he is constantly amazed by her efforts.

"Pauline does all this at the age of 98, putting us younger folk to shame," Cooper said.

Aside from her volunteer work, Roller said she enjoys reading James Patterson fiction novels and the local newspapers. She also follows national and international news online.

"Can you believe what's going on in Egypt?" she said last Thursday, referring to the hundreds who were being killed amid protests.

Interestingly, longevity isn't something with which only she has been blessed. Her husband, Albert, who died nine years ago, lived to be 99. He was a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and she served many years with the local auxiliary.

Roller garnered some local press a few years back when federal officials couldn't find paperwork confirming she was a U.S. citizen. This was after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when the country was clamping down on immigration.

"I voted for [President] Franklin Roosevelt," she told officials at the time.

A special ceremony reaffirming her citizenship was later held just for her at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center.

Roller still enjoys traveling, either to New Jersey to visit family or on a senior citizen cruise.

And when she isn't traveling, she attends synagogue at Keys Jewish Community Center on Friday nights.

As long as she can, Roller says she will continue being as active in the community as possible.

"What's the alternative?" she asks.

jgore@keysnews.com

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