Woman leaps into her 81st year

Dorothy Bell nears the ground at the end of her first tandem skydive Saturday on her 81st birthday.   - Photo courtesy of Rebecca Ching
Dorothy Bell nears the ground at the end of her first tandem skydive Saturday on her 81st birthday.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Rebecca Ching

Dorothy Bell’s recovery from a serious car crash many years ago gave her an adventurous spirit and a greater appreciation for life.

In keeping with that spirit, Bell lived out a dream Saturday when she jumped out of an airplane on her birthday.

She is 81 years old.

“I believe life is for living,” Bell said. “I think you have to do what you can do to live your life and be happy.”

“My daughter thinks I’m crazy.”

Born in England, Bell has lived in the states since 1978 when she joined her sister and mother, who lived in the Seattle area at the time.

Bell has had a home on Whidbey since that time and has found a close-knit group of friends through the Rolling Hills swimming pool where Bells swims twice a day.

It was during one of these swims that Dorothy Bell hatched her plan to go skydiving. From the outdoor pool, Bell could see other people jumping out of airplanes from nearby Jet City Skydiving.

Rebacca Ching, a fellow swimmer, said Bell first mentioned skydiving last year, saying she wanted to do it on her 80th birthday. But she didn’t have the $225 it costs to do a tandem jump with an instructor at Jet City.

“She’s always wanted to skydive, but no one really took her seriously,” Ching said.

When Bell mentioned her desire to skydive again this year, Ching and a handful of Bell’s friends from the pool decided to pool together enough money for the jump.

“It was nice to know how many friends I have,” Bell said.

Ching said that Bell is an inspiration to those who know her.

“She never stops,” Ching said. “She’s an incredible person.”

Bell said the sensation of falling was “incredible” and that she’s ready to do it again.

“It was real fun,” Bell said. “I’m not kidding. I’m pleased about it.”

Bell said she didn’t tell her family about the jump because she was afraid they would worry about her.

In recent years, Bell has had surgeries to place three stints in her heart.

While her heart health concerns her family, Bell chooses to see the healing surgeries as a chance to see and do more things.

“I feel like I have another 20 years,” Bell said. “It’s another lease on life.”

Bell is no stranger to adventure.

She has been to see the screaming monkeys in Costa Rica, has traveled around Italy and continues to travel and try new things like an Alaskan tour and a Hawaiian cruise.

“I love to travel and I love the water,” Bell said.

Before she retired, Bell worked as an educator, a gardener, an office administrator and a variety of other vocations that have kept her life interesting, she said.

Moving forward, Bell said she wasn’t sure what her next adventure will be.

But when a friend suggested bungee cord jumping, she answered: “Yeah, I’ll have a go at that.”

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