Gardens of St. Francis resident hooked on fishing, gardening

Kari Myers

        Soon-to-be 93-year-old Dorothy Czaja spends her evenings by the pond at Gardens of St. Francis in Oregon with a fishing rod in hand. Recently, she had an especially exciting catch when she brought up the line and watched an 18-20-inch bass emerge from the water before flopping off her line.
        “His mouth was open and it reminded me of ‘Jaws,’” Czaja laughed.
        For many years, Czaja enjoyed being on the water with her late husband. The couple had a trailer on the lake that they stayed at year-round. She recalls spending six to seven days on the lake, occasionally going home to cut the grass and check the mail, before returning for another week with her line in the lake.
        Czaja also remembers a time at Hudson Lake, in Michigan, when her son and her husband said to her, “You know, we ought to take mom out, she might bring us some luck,” she said.
        That day, which was her first time out, she caught a 32-inch Muskellunge fish. 
        “The only thing that would keep me off the water would be the mosquitoes,” she said. “That's my top passion –fishing and then gardening.”
        When she’s not on the water, Czaja enjoys tending to the community grotto, a round seating area with a statue of the Virgin Mary where residents go to pray, meditate, or just sit in peace. Czaja has taken it upon herself to fix the space up into something idyllic and beautiful. She set up angel statues and planted all sorts of flowers.
        Every day she fills up two buckets of water and uses them to water the flowers there. Later in the day she finds herself back at the pond.


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