Super Senior: Lester Durett

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:05 PM EDT
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MILTON, Vt. (WCAX) - When Lester Durett and his wife Marge built their home, they wanted a room for some toe-tapping.

“Well ah, it’s a place to enjoy,” Durett said. A place to square dance, with upwards of 30 people filling the room at times. “I just have such a good time when I’m on the dance floor.”

At 96, the World War 2 Navy veteran has many memories to share. Durett show a photo taken on the USS Roi somewhere in the Pacific. “It’s probably the best thing I ever had taken,” he said. “This has been in a little war.”

The Roi was a Casablanca-class escort to larger aircraft carriers that carried both men and planes. Durett slept next to the propeller shaft. “And when I first went to my bunk at night, I would hear this squeak, squeak, squeak. So, that kept me awake, and I guess it’s kept me awake since,” he said.

The ship was never in direct combat while Durett was on board, but the ocean almost claimed the vessel in a storm.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Did you think you were going to sink?

Lester Durett : It goes through your mind, yes.

But of course, he did come home. He met Marge, married, and became fast friends with Alvin and Judy Isham. The couples were regulars on the dance floor until illness took both Alvin and Marge within months of each other.

After a period of mourning, Durett went for a drive. “And I see her working on the lawn, so I stopped to see how she was doing,” he said. Judy suggested they do something they always found comfort in - dancing. She mentioned the Arrowhead Senior Center. “She says, ‘Have you ever been?’ And I said, ‘I didn’t know they had it there.’ And I said, ‘Why don’t we give it a whirl,’ and we’ve been whirling since.”

“We have been. We enjoy dancing,” Isham said.

Every Monday, the couple journey from Williston to Milton for a little exercise. “Love my music, love to dance,” Durett said. “I’m going to stand up, get my leg flowing.”

Even after a heart attack, a bout with cancer, and hip replacements, Durett still makes the moves on the dance floor. “I’m blessed to be alive at 96,” he said. “Yeah, she’s my lady friend.”

“He usually calls me his ‘dance partner,’” Isham added.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you think your spouses would be happy to see you together?

Lester Durett: I think they’re probably up there fixing a place for us.

Judy Isham: They may be dancing themselves.

“I like to say, anyone out there enjoying themselves -- they can be the best, doesn’t make a difference -- as long as everybody’s having a good time,” Durett said.

And for this couple, it’s far from their last waltz.