Dorothy Rogoff Gell: 103 on 10-3
By Deb Silverthorn
For Dorothy Rogoff, who turned 103 Oct. 3, memories of 15-cent tickets for the first talkie movies, neighborhood produce peddlers and her childhood home — the first on the block to have electricity — are razor sharp.
Dorothy, the daughter of Abraham and Gertrude Appelson and sister of Martin, all of blessed memory, was born in Brooklyn, New York. She and her brother, Irving Appelson, now 96 and living in Atlanta, are as close as ever despite the miles.
“Irving and I have always been extremely close. He was my first best friend,” said Rogoff, who visited by video-chat with Appelson on her birthday. “Our dad was a lingerie designer, and Mother stayed home with us. We had a close family, and a lovely home life.”
Dorothy and Robert (Bob) Rogoff, her husband of 36 years at his passing, were introduced by her uncle, and married after a three-month engagement. She worked as an administrative assistant at the Skywriting Corporation of America, and Bob, an optician, became an optical manufacturer’s representative.
In 1954, the Rogoffs relocated to Dallas, with daughters Eileen and Eve. They first lived on Walnut Hill Lane, then a few miles north, where Rogoff still resides.
Rogoff was involved with the City of Hope, serving as president of the Dallas chapter for multiple terms, and vice president of her B’nai B’rith Women chapter. The family was active at Congregation Shearith Israel, where Rogoff served on the Sisterhood board and later the JCC’s YES (Young Energetic Seniors) Club. For years, she worked in the office of her son-in-law, Dr. Aaron Kreisler.
A fan of the Texas Jewish Post for more than six decades, Rogoff Gell was a frequent contributor to the newspaper’s “Dallas Doings” section, providing publishers Rene and Jimmy Wisch of blessed memory with local news items.
Dorothy is most proud of her family, which includes Eileen (Aaron) Kreisler and Eve (Melvin) Hoffman; her grandchildren: Barbi (Scott) Cohen, Amy (Joe) Harberg, Stephen (Eva) Kreisler, Hilary (Josh) Stern, Brian (Lara) Hoffman, Eric (Amanda) Hoffman and Robert (Cori) Hoffman; and her great-grandchildren: Ella, Kacey and Olivia Cohen, Jeffrey, Max and Samantha Harberg, Isaac and Leah Kreisler, Aiden, Benjamin, Noah and Sarah Stern, Colin, Gabrielle, Lily, Liv, Marin, Patrick and Will Hoffman.
Five years after Bob’s passing, she married Lou Gell, also of blessed memory. “Bob and I had a magnificent marriage,” she said, “and then I was lucky to meet another special man. I’ve known lots of love.”
Dorothy’s breakfast consists of two pumpernickel slices with cream cheese and a cup of coffee. . Her lunch is often cottage cheese with pineapple, or a sandwich; a 2 p.m. Starbucks Frappuccino; and then a dinner of chicken, fish or meat, always with applesauce. “I eat to live,” she said, weighing the same 100-ish pounds almost all her adult life. “I don’t live to eat.”
The self-titled “Blackjack Queen,” Dorothy learned the game years ago from a Las Vegas dealer, who offered her a 7:30 a.m. tutorial. “I’ve never lost a game and I’ve taught all the kids, even the little ones. I promise, we play with chips.”
A lady of habit and organization, Dorothy does the daily Dallas Morning News crossword puzzle, usually in less than 15 minutes. “I never leave it with an empty space,” she said. “It helps with vocabulary and keeps me thinking!”
As one of the few deferences to her age, Rogoff Gell gave up driving several years ago. She learned to drive at age 28 and got only one speeding ticket in more than six decades of driving.
Looking back over her long, full life, Rogoff Gell has a special wish for her family as those around her celebrate her longevity. “I wish them to be blessed with continued health and love,” she says, “which I have been so fortunate to receive in my life.”