Dorothy Geeben

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Dorothy Geeben
Mayor of Ocean Breeze Park, Florida
In office
2001 – January 11, 2010
Preceded by Ruth Hoke
Succeeded by David W. Myers
Personal details
Born (1908-03-31)March 31, 1908
Mondovi, Wisconsin
Died January 11, 2010(2010-01-11) (aged 101)
Stuart, Florida
Resting place Marion, Iowa
Residence Ocean Breeze Park, Florida
Profession Politician
Religion Christian

Dorothy P. Colleen Geeben[1] (March 31, 1908 – January 11, 2010) was the oldest mayor in the United States.[2] She served as the second mayor of Ocean Breeze Park, Florida, from 2001 to 2010.[3]

Geeben began her public service work on the Ocean Breeze Town Council in 1960. She became the council's president in 1976 and served in that capacity for thirty-one years. In 2001, after the death of Ruth Hoke, the first mayor and widow of Gene Hoke, son of the town founders, Harry and Queena Hoke. Geeben was chosen to be the next mayor. She served as mayor for the next nine years, running unopposed in the 2002 and 2004 mayoral elections. Geeben died on January 11, 2010, after missing the town meeting because she felt ill.

Political career[edit]

Geeben started serving on the Ocean Breeze Town Council in 1960.[4] Beginning in 1976, Geeben served as council president of Ocean Breeze Park, Florida for thirty-one years. In 2001, after the death of Mayor Ruth Hoke, widow of the Gene Hoke, Geeben was selected to be the next mayor.[3] In the 2002 and 2004 mayoral election, no one ran against her.[5]

When she was ninety-four years old, Geeben saved Jansen Beach Christian Church from closing down. At the time, the church lacked a minister and had four parishioners remaining. Geeben's efforts revived the church, enabling it to retain a pastor and increase church membership to 100 people.[6]

In 2004, NBC ran a segment about Geeben after filming her for a day.[7][8]

In 2008, Geeben counseled her constituents when they were afraid that they would be forced to move. The people's homes were located in a park that was going to be sold. In March of that year, Geeben helped mediate a deal that enabled the forty-six acres of residential area in the park to be bought for $26 million.[5][9]

Known as "Mayor Dorothy",[3] Geeben characterized her role on the council as being ceremonial. She affixed her signature to checks as well participated in council meetings.[5]

Personal life and death[edit]

Dorothy P. Colleen was born on March 31, 1908, in Mondovi, Buffalo County, Wisconsin. During her childhood, she contracted polio but did not let the disease hinder her.[10]

She graduated from Marion High School, in Marion, Linn County, Iowa, where she married Cornelius "Neal" Bunting, an electrician.[1] They founded Bunting Electric, with her working as the bookkeeper.[10] In 1952,[3] she moved to Ocean Breeze Park, Florida, where she and her husband retired and purchased a mobile home.[5] After her first husband's death, she married Albert Geeben in 1963, but he died less than two years later.[1]

As mayor, Geeben drove herself around in a 1983 Mercury Marquis. Every Sunday, she drove the few blocks north to the Jensen Beach Christian Church, where she was the treasurer and organist.[6] Every week, she played bingo, and occasionally, she would go to the hair salon. Geeben balanced her bills through a typewriter and adding machine, just as she did in the 1920s.[11]

Geeben revealed that her secret to long life was always to be busy. She said, "I have a good time. I'm on the go a lot. I guess that's half the battle."[11] Geeben received her exercise through a pedalling machine, which she used to invigorate her knees. Geeben did not smoke or drink alcohol and typically slept at 11 pm and then would awake at 5:30 the next morning.-[12] On her 100th birthday, Geeben received letters from First Lady Laura Bush and Florida Governor Charlie Crist in tribute of the special occasion.[13]

On January 11, 2010, the Ocean Breeze Town Council held a council meeting which Geeben did not attend because she was feeling ill. She believed that she had a cold. That afternoon, she was transported to the Martin Memorial Medical Center where she died.[3] At the time of her death, she was survived by her son, John Bunting, two grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.[10]

Funeral arrangements in Iowa were by Murdoch Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Marion, Iowa. Geeben was buried in Marion next to her late first husband, John Bunting. [14] [15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Plante, Karen (May 2009). "Dorothy Colleen Geeben" (pdf). FMO News. p. 22. Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  2. ^ "Ocean Breeze Park Mayor, 101, Dies: Nation's Oldest Mayor Elected In 2001". WPBF. 2010-01-12. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Crankshaw, Joe (2010-01-12). "America' oldest active mayor dies in Fla. at 102". The Gainesville Sun. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  4. ^ Tim Mahoney (2008-04-01). "Honoring Mayor Dorothy Geeben of Ocean Breeze Park, Florida". United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  5. ^ a b c d Rubin, Lindsay (2008-03-25). "Party of the century planned for Ocean Breeze Park mayor". TCPalm. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  6. ^ a b Hall, Dennie (2007-09-30). "Inspirational: Heroes' stories serve to inspire". The Oklahoman. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  7. ^ "'Today' show to profile Ocean Breeze mayor, 95". TCPalm. 2004-03-27. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  8. ^ "'Today' to feature area mayor turning 96". Palm Beach Post. 2004-03-31. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  9. ^ "Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: What's hot and what's not in the news (March 29)". TCPalm. 2008-03-29. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  10. ^ a b c Crankshaw, Joe (2010-01-13). "Geeben services to be Jan. 15 in Jensen Beach". TCPalm. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  11. ^ a b Barton, Jill (2004-12-20). "96-year-old mayor wins another term, sets record". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  12. ^ "Mayor, 96, ready for another term". Waterloo Region Record. 2004-03-30. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  13. ^ Rubin, Lindsay (2008-03-28). "Ocean Breeze Park's mayor marks 100th". TCPalm. Archived from the original on 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  14. ^ "Geeben, Dorothy P.". The Gazette. 2010-01-15. Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  15. ^ Matisse, Jonathan (2010-01-15). "Country's oldest mayor remembered for caring attitude". TC Palm. Archived from the original on 2010-01-28. Retrieved 2010-01-28.