At 107, this artist just beat covid-19. It was the second pandemic she survived.


Marilee Shapiro Asher works in twos: two husbands, two children. And now, two pandemics.

This incredible woman — artist, author, photographer, sculptor, therapist, mother, wife — conquered the 1918 flu pandemic, when she was 6 years old.

Marilee remembered little about the illness beyond the moment she knew it was over, said her cousin, Linda Hansell, who helped write Marilee’s autobiography, “Dancing in the Wonder For 102 Years.”

“When she was better,” Hansell said, she remembered that she “came downstairs and saw her father eating breakfast.

“And she knew she was better, rejoining the family at breakfast.”

This time, Marilee had been feeling poorly for weeks, Hansell said.

She began feeling fatigued in March, and it worsened in April, just as the virus began tearing through the region and hitting the elderly in particular. When Marilee stopped eating, the nurse at the Chevy Chase House, her senior living community, insisted that she go to the hospital.

There, doctors confirmed the dreaded news — Marilee tested positive and wasn’t doing well.

She never went on a ventilator, but doctors called her daughter, Joan Shapiro, to tell her she should get to the hospital. They believed she had no more than 12 hours to live.

“Well, he doesn’t know my mother, does he?” Joan Shapiro told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Marilee went home after five days in the hospital. And she is still recovering, beginning to read the paper and comment on the news. But it’s a long, slow process, Hansell said.

Marilee is a force, always growing, always moving forward. I can’t wait to see what else she plans to share with the world.


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