Super Senior: Janet Schurink

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:43 PM EDT
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SHAFTSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - Janet Schurink has spent most of her life on a Shaftsbury hillside.

“It’s only 10 acres but we do a lot in 10 acres,” Schurink said.

She boards horses and is an instructor at Doornof Farm. “You have to get up early in the morning and I think that’s good for me,” Schurink said.

She gets help from her granddaughter, Meggi Austin, after experiencing two broken hips. The 91-year-old rarely slows down. “That’s how I fall, you see, I am too fast,” Schurink said. “I like to move around, I don’t like to stand.”

On this day Schurink is coaching Austin in the riding barn’s indoor ring. Austin, now 37, grew up in the ring.

Janet Schurink: I could be tough, but I think I’m pretty nice. Am I? I don’t know.

Meggi Austin: I don’t know... When I was a kid, you used to keep me after class.

Janet Schurink: I mean, you’re never not learning with horses.

Meggi Austin: She’s definitely taught me never to give up, either.

Austin is in awe of her grandmother. “I mean, she’s one of my best friends, you know. I go to her for anything. I have a difficult time with my child, I go to her, you know,” she said.

Schurink grew up in tumultuous times, in an affluent family in Zwolle, a city in the middle of Holland. “One remembers a lot when they’re 13,” Schurink said. It was during World War 2 and the home had an unwanted guest. “So you had to be very careful. We had a German officer in our house that we had to take and my father tried to be very careful with him.”

Hidden upstairs, she recalls her father and uncle kept up on the news listening in secret to the BBC.

Reporter Joe Carroll: And if you were caught with that radio?

Janet Schurink: They would put you in the street and shoot you in the back. That’s what they did.

Schurink is quick to point out that many had it worse than her. After the war, she met her future husband, Hank, at a classmate’s house. “And Hank would come in and I would leave, because I couldn’t stand him,” she recalled.

Hank was a prankster. But it was a wise co-worker who told her that Hank was a catch. “‘I think you are a team and think you have a very good man there.’”

Hank had already started a dairy farm in Vermont and soon Schurink joined him in the Green Mountains.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Was it a culture shock at all?

Janet Schurink: I didn’t mind that. I was young, I was 23 years old.

Hank has since passed away. They were married for 63 years. But Schurink carries on with the help of Austin.

“You’re pretty incredible,” Austin tells her grandma. “Whether you know it or not.”