July 18--Seventh of eight profiles of Eight Over 80 winners.
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa -- Lyle Luloff still goes full speed at age 94.
He has no plans to stop.
"I think it's a fact that I'm healthy enough to keep going, and I don't sit in my rocking chair and watch TV," said Luloff, a longtime resident of Independence.
That's probably a good thing for his neighbors among the Amish communities in Buchanan County.
Luloff doesn't know how many miles he has put on his vehicles over the last decade or so driving Amish friends to the hospital, doctor appointments, funerals, shopping or social gatherings -- sometimes far away.
"He has taken them out of state if they needed to go there," said Donna Jensen, a longtime friend who nominated Luloff for The Courier's third annual Eight Over 80 awards. "That's the kind of person he is, and he's always been that way."
Jensen said Luloff has had a few babies named after him.
"He takes the couples to the hospital to get their babies delivered, and they think so much of him they name the baby after him," Jensen said.
Jensen said Luloff, at age 91, drove his 2007 Chevrolet Impala more than 30,000 miles.
When Luloff isn't driving his car, he often can be seen motoring around in parades on his beloved 1946 Farmall H tractor.
"He's in all the parades; he loves his tractor," Jensen said.
Luloff and his wife of 70 years, Ivadel, host weekly "Hoedown" dances Friday nights at the Buchanan County Senior Center.
"They can have up to 100 people show up at the senior center," Jensen said. "It's a potluck. She gets all the paper plates and napkins and food items. Then, the two of them work on getting tables taken down."
Luloff speaks with an ever-present grin that friends say is catchy.
"Everybody calls me 'Smiley,'" he said. "There's no need to be unhappy. I was blessed with pretty good health over the years. I've had a four-way bypass heart operation and three strokes, and I'm still going."
He also numbers "Snooks" and "Shorty" among his nicknames.
He was asked how he reacted to winning the Eight Over 80 honor.
"I first thought I might be too old for it," he said, chuckling.
Professionally, Luloff has had two careers. He farmed for 30 years and later worked for an insurance company until he was 70. He also had a Farm Bureau job for five years before getting into the insurance business.
"I never applied for a job anywhere," he said.
Whatever he does, he gives it his best.
"If they're not satisfied with me, they can always get rid of me; you've got to have a few critics," Luloff said.
The Luloffs also reared two children. A daughter, Rosemary Bachman, who lives in Fairbank, often accompanies Luloff on tractor rides. A son, Gary Ivan Luloff, is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel.
Lyle Luloff was asked how close he has come to having his dreams coming true.
"Better than I could have imagined," he said.
(c)2012 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
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