View Full Version : 70-year old Du Quoin woman inspires through martial arts

12/26/2007 9:43am,
Du Quoin woman inspires through martial arts


DU QUOIN - You are only as old as you feel.

And Vera Williams, who turns 70 today, is feeling pretty good. Her story is inspirational for those feeling low or in search of a new approach to life during this holiday season.

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"I don't act it," she said about becoming a septuagenarian. "I don't think I look it. I'll tackle anything, anywhere."

She is currently working toward a second-degree Black Belt rank at the Longshore's Tae Kwon Do and Martial Arts Academy in downtown Du Quoin. She also teaches dance through John A. Logan College and continues working for Heights Finance, where she has been an employee since 1973.

Williams has taught dancing since 1985 at clubs and schools, including Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Rend Lake College and JALC.

One of her students this fall, Chuck Obertini of Du Quoin, who is honing in on 70, said he was hesitant about learning ballroom dancing. But, in just six weeks, he's learned how to waltz, jitterbug and line dance.

"It really helps your agility. I've got strength in my legs now and stamina in my heart. She (Williams) teaches well. If people would practice like she tells them, they would learn well," Obertini said.

Williams' dance class is not tailored exclusively for the elderly.

Twenty-year-old Lindsey Depolo enrolled in Williams' class to improve her line dancing. Not only did she do that, she also learned ballroom dancing that required some strict coaching from Williams.

"She gets around really well. She keeps you on line and teaches you how not to step out," Depolo said.

Williams joined Longshore's academy in 2003. Her years of dancing helped her in a sport that requires agility and precise floor movements.

Williams said she picked it up in a hurry.

"I've got a fantastic memory. I remember moves and steps like crazy," she said.

She's amazed her karate instructors much like she's amazed her dance students.

"If everyone could have her mindset, the world would be a better place. She's a model student and has a good martial arts attitude. We try to develop perseverance. Vera had a good, positive outlook from the beginning. She already had fortitude. She's here almost every day and attends evening classes also," academy owner and instructor Corky Longshore said.

Williams is not selfish about what she can accomplish. She urges others to do the same.

"People should take up karate and dancing to get their bodies physically and mentally moving," Williams said.

Pretty cool! Quite an accomplishment to be practicing at that age.

12/28/2007 8:11am,
That's important to stay active especially when you get older. I mean you don't have to be a marathon runner at 70, but staying active really helps you in the long run. I think it's impressive that people who are older are able to be able to do things like that.