By Katie Terou

SYV Star Intern


Dorothy Reid grew up in rural Illinois, moved to California immediately after high school and went on to raise four children and work for the Santa Barbara Housing Authority before retiring and moving to Atterdag Village.

Reid, 80, grew up on a farm near the city of Oregon, Ill. The town was very small, with a population of less than 200 people. She liked the small community, however, and felt she was close with its members.

“It was great because you knew everybody in town …” she said. “It was a country atmosphere, so it was a great place to grow up.”

Reid met her first husband, Gary Zumdahl, at a party in high school. Shortly after she became pregnant with their first child in 1957, she and her husband moved to Santa Barbara County where Zumdahl studied photography at Brooks Institute. The move was a big change for the couple, but Reid was excited to live near the ocean.

“Of course, Santa Barbara was a lot different than it is now,” she said, “but just being in Santa Barbara and driving around and going to the ocean, I really enjoy that.”

The pair continued to expand their family after the move. They had four children over the span of six years. Their oldest daughter, Tina, died at 16 years old from cerebral palsy and their son, Fred, died in late 2017 from liver problems.

Reid’s other two daughters still live in California and visit their mother often. Jayne, the younger of the two, lives in the Bay Area but comes down to the valley once a month. Jennifer, Reid’s youngest, lives in Buellton and sees her mother several times a week.

The importance of family is one of Reid’s core values, so she likes having her children close.

“I enjoy and love my family and we’re close, which is nice,” said Reid. “They’re my whole life right now.”

Reid worked for the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara where she helped find affordable housing for seniors, people with low incomes and many more groups. She found this job because her neighbor worked for the housing authority and would ask Reid to cover for her when she went out of town. Reid ended up enjoying the job and sticking with it for more than three decades.

“I got lugged into it, but I really enjoyed it,” she said. “It was very rewarding.”

She met her second husband, John Reid, at a pool party in the 1980s. The two got married and lived in Santa Barbara for many years. Reid described their marriage as fun, saying that her husband shared her sense of humor. He eventually moved to Solvang Friendship House because of his Lou Gehrig’s disease, and he died in 2018.

Reid fell and suffered a broken hip and had to have a hip replacement after the loss of her husband. This required surgery and physical therapy. With all of this happening, she and her children decided it was time to make the move to Atterdag Village. Reid moved in March and said her transition to this new lifestyle has been smooth.

“I decided that I’d come up here, closer to my other daughter, and not live alone,” she said. “I got into a depression, so it’s helped me to fit in a little bit better here by the activities and getting involved, which I hadn’t done for several years.”

She keeps busy at Atterdag Village, playing bocce and Wii games with the other residents. She said she misses living so close to the ocean but is elated that she lives closer to her family. She has also made many new friends within the retirement community and enjoys her new home.

 “Everybody is very, very nice and it’s close to family.” Reid said. “This is a great place to live.”