“You don’t mind taking the stairs, do you?” asked Maryanne, who bounced away from the elevator and into the stairwell. “I just prefer to use the stairs. It’s good exercise.”

On the way up, she explains how a neighbor once asked why she exercises every day, considering what good shape Maryanne is in. “I think maybe that’s why I’m in good shape…Once I told her, she started coming to exercise, too.”

If you haven’t guessed, Maryanne has a rather take-charge, get-up-and-move personality. And why not? Staying active — in addition to taking on having a thirst for learning and doing more — is a big part of who Maryanne is.

“We’re so lucky to have the chance to exercise like this,” she said. “People don’t know how important it is as you get older like us. I never was athletic and was terrible at it, but in my 50s I was feeling like I was getting arthritis. I heard the best thing for it was exercise.”

She’s making the most of every opportunity that comes up. As Maryanne explains it, she comes from an era where many women didn’t have the opportunities they do today,

She was married for over 50 years, but felt she held more of a secondary role — common to women of an earlier era.

“My parents never brought us up any differently, to make our own choices,” she said. “Women, especially, didn’t have too many options. Thankfully, that has changed.”

As her life progressed, Maryanne discovered — and acted upon — the need to do more for herself.
“I started taking more classes at Macomb Community College,” she said. “I had a very dependent personality and couldn’t make decisions for myself. It’s good to know you can change if you work at it”

Growing up with a twin sister, Rosalie, Maryanne came to the conclusion many twins do — that there is a natural want to compare and sometimes, compete. Rosalie actually used to live at Oakmont Manor, but when she had to move elsewhere, Maryanne knew it would be a good fit; especially since she could be her own person.

“I used to play bridge. I think being a twin made me more competitive,” she said. “I used to love competition so maybe that’s why.” She added she’s a firm believer all twins should be raised as individuals, not as one person dressed twice in the same outfit. “That drives me crazy. Let them be their own people.”

Maryanne runs a book club at Oakmont Manor, often trekking to the local library to get more books for the residents. She also now coordinates a book group discussion.

“As you get older, it’s good to do something different,” said Maryanne, who also likes to use her computer and read along with being physically active. “There are so many things now that are available, like computers. I think it’s unbelievable. You still want to learn things. At 86, I’m still trying to make myself a perfect person.

“That’s the interesting thing about living so long. You see so much. The technology amazes me.”

Maryanne, who is widowed, has five children. Four live nearby and another lives in Virginia. She enjoys her 12 grandchildren and a recent family addition, her first great grandchild.