Dollie and her sister

Marilyn Crossen with her sister, Dollie Grissom, who is holding one of her favorite dolls. Grissom lives at Chickasha Nursing Center. The 74-year-old maybe be the oldest living person in the United States with Down Syndrome. 

Dollie Grissom is a familiar face at Chickasha Nursing Center, which she has called home since 1969.

Grissom, 74, may also be one of the oldest living persons with Down Syndrome in the United States, Shari Brunt, Social Services Director at Chickasha Nursing Center, said.

Grissom's vision is impaired by cataracts, but that doesn't stop her from walking down the hallway to grab a coke and a magazine.

"Everyone knows and loves Dollie," Brunt said. 

Grissom is the second of nine siblings, who she helped raise. The large family lived on a farm in Rush Springs where they grew tomatoes and watermelons. Every year, they attended the famous Rush Springs Watermelon Festival. 

Grissom's sister, Marilyn Crossen, said Grissom was the best babysitter. She even went on to watch Crossen's son in later years. 

While Grissom is short in stature, she could throw her weight around when necessary to keep her younger siblings in line. Crossen recalled that when their brother challenged–and then doubted–Grissom's ability to throw him across the room, Grissom picked him up and did just that. 

These days, Grissom still babysits. She has several dolls which she calls her "babies" that she holds–and disciplines–as necessary. Grissom also enjoys music, particularly 1970s pop and playing in the water during shower time. 

The 89th resident, Grissom moved into the facility the second year that it was open, due to a mother's intuition. 

Crossen said their mother had a feeling she wouldn't be able to care for Grissom, and placed her in Chickasha Nursing Center. One month later, their mother was in a car accident, which left her unable to take care of Grissom. 

The 89th resident, Grissom moved into the facility forty-six years ago. 

Crossen said her sister is in good hands at Chickasha Nursing Center. 

"I would not even consider putting Dollie in another nursing home," she said. 

At 74, Grissom has surpassed the typical life expectancy of 40 to 50 years, Brunt said. The oldest man with Down Syndrome recently passed away at the age of 74, according to Brunt's research. She has not been able to find anyone older.

However, this is changing according to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). Persons with Down Syndrome are beginning to catch up with their peers in terms of life expectancy, depending on other health issues.

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