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LAGUNA HILLS | Community News Focus

96 Years and Counting . . . and Helping and Learning

September 18, 1996|FRANK MESSINA

At age 96, Jess Maloy sometimes feels a little bit embarrassed when people congratulate her for looking and acting like someone decades younger.

"I don't know why people are interested in me and make so much fuss," she said. "I've led a simple life."

Simple, yet busy.

Maloy regularly visits children at the Orangewood Children's Home and helped start tai chi classes at her home in the Villa Valencia retirement home in Laguna Hills.

In her retirement, she has traveled around the world, taken classes in lip reading, sewing, and lamp and hat decorating. She is thinking about making computers her next challenge.

"I'm like a perennial sophomore, because I love learning new things," Maloy said. "I believe that you don't have yesterday and you don't have tomorrow, so you better live for today."

Maloy was born on Nov. 15, 1899, in Victoria, Mich. As a child, she moved with her family to Brisbee, Ariz., where she remembers seeing burros haul the town's water supply in canvas bags.

Maloy hasn't tried to figure out the secret to her long, rich life.

"I've never really thought about it," she said.

"But for one thing, I'm not a sitter, I keep moving. It's hard for me to slow down."

Maloy will take the bus to her doctor's office and the Laguna Hills Mall, but she always walks back home.

It was from her husband of 64 years, Percy Maloy, who died in 1993 at age 93, that Maloy learned what she considers one of her greatest attributes: a positive attitude that helps give her the gumption to sample new experiences.

One new experience came last February at a Scottsdale, Ariz., religious symposium, where a friend suggested that she take a workshop in tai chi.

Returning to Laguna Hills, she convinced the retirement home administration to start a tai chi class.

"Among all my students, she's right up there with my 20-year-olds," said Tais Hoffman, who teaches the class. "Jess has a wonderful natural ability and a great attitude."

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