by Kym Byrnes, photography by Phil Grout
For many seniors, embarking on new adventures can be intimidating and taking on physical challenges can be scary. But not for Darthean Fox, who is getting attention at the gym of all places, where she recently set a personal deadlifting record, at the age of 88.
WHO: Darthean Fox moved to Carroll County from Baltimore City in 1941, at the age of 13. Several years later she graduated from New Windsor High School, with one goal – to be a secretary. That was a common goal for most girls at that time, Darthean explains. In 1957, she married her husband, Richard “Dick” Fox, a Carroll County native and a firefighter.
WHAT: Darthean did secretarial work for several businesses in Carroll County before embarking on a career with what is today the Carroll Hospital Center. She helped the Carroll County Hospital come to fruition – first by raising money to build the hospital and then by serving as the hospital’s secretary and business office manager. She worked for the hospital for 33 years.
Later in her career, she worked for Rexall Pharmacy in downtown Westminster and most recently she worked for Rite Aid Pharmacy delivering medications until she retired three years ago at the age of 85.
Darthean likes to be on the go. At 88, she stays active in the community and is still beloved by neighbors, community members and friends made through the fire department over the years. Although her husband passed away in 2015, Darthean continues to live independently and take care of her home. She said she likes to walk and attend community events in her downtown Westminster neighborhood.
WOW: In the spring of 2016, at the age of 87, Darthean said she was having trouble lifting her 50-pound bags of bird seed. She told her neighbor and long-time friend Tina Huff that she needed to do something to keep up her strength. Tina, who participates in Crossfit training at Westminster Strength and Conditioning, invited Darthean to meet her trainer Beau Bryant.
“I was excited because I like to do for myself,” Darthean said. “I knew I had to do something when I had trouble lifting the bag of bird seed out of the car. I knew I had to do some strength training.”
Darthean started a weight lifting program under the close supervision and guidance of trainer Beau Bryant. She lifts two mornings a week and is currently doing overhead press, deadlift and back squats. Darthean said the benefits go beyond building stronger arms.
“All the lifts I’m doing are fun, they strengthen my arms and legs and back and it even helps with my memory,” Darthean said. “I have to remember how to stand and where to stand and the proper technique.”
The gym also provides a close-knit community for Darthean where she continues to make new friends.
“It just helps to keep my mind active and keeps me connected to what another generation is doing these days. At the gym I’m connecting with people of all ages,” Darthean said.
Not surprisingly, Darthean said she wasn’t intimidated at the thought of starting a weight lifting program at the age of 87. In fact, after turning 88 in August, she set a personal deadlifting record of 88 pounds.
“I’m not doing it to show off or anything,” Darthean said. “I am just doing it to keep strong. I feel great after lifting.”