Q&A with Lolly Norstrom; Secret to Long, Healthy Life? She Says Be True to Emotions

Article excerpt

Lolly Norstrom, who turns 100 on Feb. 20, has had quite the life. A Minnesota native, she was an actress and play director in California, had a brief early marriage to a big band director and a 64-year marriage with husband Art, who decided at their first meeting that she would be his wife. He was an FBI agent and later a CIA agent who hunted the likes of Bonnie and Clyde.

The couple served in counterintelligence in World War II and undercover in occupied Japan after the war. They spent much of the Cold War and Vietnam era in the Far East and retired to North Carolina in the 1970s.

Widowed since the 1990s, Norstrom now lives independently in an apartment at Cypress Village. She has two daughters, six grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Her granddaughter-in-law, Brette Reiman, reports that she "doesn't sit still, rarely doesn't have an opinion and is as beautiful and active as ever. She's very well-loved at Cypress Village, where so many residents ask her what makes her tick."

In this week's Q&A, Norstrom answers that question and more.

Tell us some of your favorite memories.

Loved school, directing plays at 20, 21 years old, marrying Art. I was in California and leading a glamorous life, going to parties with the likes of Bing Crosby. I wanted to go back home because I didn't see raising children in that environment. I went with a friend to a law firm fraternity at the University of Minnesota [and met Art]. He took one look and never let go. ... He said, "I don't know where you're going to go or what you are going to do, but when you get done I want to marry you." We lived in 20 states while Art was in the FBI, and then spent 20 years overseas while he was with the CIA. Travel was thrilling. I had always dreamed of seeing the world. ... It was almost like I was somebody who was an explorer. I knew from the time I was young I was going to do that.

How did you keep a marriage going 64 years?

We were both strong people, but totally different. He was serious and intellectual, and I was the outgoing, social type. We were apart quite a bit. While this can break some people up, it made us stronger because we felt we were meant to be together. We were farsighted in terms of the children and the longer-term relationship, and tried not to let the immediate problems cloud the bigger picture. …