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Bush honors senior 'ageless heroes'

By MIKE SAELENS

CHICAGO, May 18 -- Calling them examples of healthy and vital aging, former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, honored six senior citizens for defying stereotypical images of aging. The six received awards as today part of the annual 'Ageless Heroes' honors sponsored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

The honorees included Harriet Smith, an 81-year-old retired Mississippi housekeeper who learned to read at age 75; Californian Joe Naughton, 65, a diabetic who is helping his 9-year-old granddaughter, Arianna, cope with juvenile diabetes; and 81-year-old Lois Dupuis, who established the Montana Association for the Blind after losing her eyesight in the 1980s and still helps her son operate a 600-tree cherry orchard. Other honorees include Arnold Bull, an 80-year-old New Jersey man who is considered the oldest active aerobics instructor in the country; Evelyn Stone, 78, a member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm; and Charmayne Dierker, a 71-year-old Maryland woman who founded Mothers Supporting Daughters with Breast Cancer after her daughter was diagnosed with the disease in 1995. Earlier, Mrs. Bush spent nearly an hour reading 'Uncle Jed's Barbershop' by Margery King Mitchell with students from three Chicago- area middle schools. The former First Lady also accepted a $10,000 check from Blue Cross and Blue Shield for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. ---

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Copyright 1999 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---

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