- Associated Press - Monday, January 4, 2016

LEAD, S.D. (AP) - Ninety-one-year-old Deloris “Dee” Baker has connections, which helped make this particular birthday like no other.

For Baker, of Lead, it paid to cross paths with Shannon Percy, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Black Hills Trails district supervisor, who, after meeting the soon-to-be-birthday girl, made Baker a proposition she couldn’t refuse.

Chatting it up during dinner time at Lewie’s Burgers & Brews recently, the two discovered their birthdays are just five days apart. Percy turned 46 and Baker turned 91 in December.

“I asked her if she’d ever been on a snowmobile before, and she said, ‘No,’” Percy told the Black Hills Pioneer (https://bit.ly/1NRd6bk ). “I told her I’d give her a ride on her birthday, since mine is so close to hers . as long as she doesn’t fall off, that’s all I care about.”

Donning her angel socks, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus earrings, and sporting a lucky penny stuck in her shoe, Baker was bundled up in snowmobile gear by her daughter Shari Burleson of Lead, her outfit topped off with a snowmobile helmet, carefully adjusted just prior to takeoff by Lewie Sternhagen.

Asked if she was sure she wanted to go through with the offer, Baker exclaimed, “Hell yes - I’m game for anything. I’m not getting any younger. If I fall off and break my neck, my funeral’s paid for, anyway.”

Baker then took off on the Mickelson Trail with Percy, giving a big wave, as she passed her audience.

Burleson said her mother is a huge Denver Broncos football fan, a very active 91-year-old, known to shovel her own sidewalks at 1:30 a.m., mow her own grass, and keep a large garden.

For Baker, this birthday seemed to be one of the best.

“Shari got me a great big television, we went to Deadwood and ate, I got my belly full, and had a few drinks,” Baker said, dishing on her birthday activities. “Now I’m at Lewie’s having more drinks.”

Sternhagen then turned to her and asked her the secret of her longevity.

“Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your friends. Do what you want to do. Do it your way,” Baker said. “All these many, many years, I like beer. Today, it’s amaretto and egg nog.”

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com

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