Carolyn Lowe gets an \u201cA\u201d in senior living. At 93, she \u201cstruts around in 3-inch heels\u201d and stockings in the halls of Hart Magnet Elementary School in Stamford. After the bell rings, she slips on sneakers and heads to the gym. She has been playing golf courses around the country since taking up the sport at 60. She\u2019s still as fashionable as she was while working as a model 75 years ago. She may be the UConn women\u2019s basketball team\u2019s biggest fan. But she gets an \u201cF\u2019 when it comes to retiring. Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons marked the occasion of Lowe ending her career at Hart as the city\u2019s oldest employee by declaring March 1 \u201cCarolyn Lowe Day.\u201d Students and staff gathered to salute her with gifts, songs, poems and signs. I gave Lowe a few days to put things in perspective. Tracking her down led me back to her desk at Hart, where she worked as an office support specialist. Her successor hasn\u2019t been hired yet, so she is volunteering for the same 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shifts (she eats lunch at her desk) she just retired from. \u201cWhat can I do for you?\u201d she inquires. \u201cNothing short of telling me your life story, I guess,\u201d I respond. And maybe sharing her secrets. Pay attention \u2014 they reveal themselves in the pockets of her answers. It turns out to be a good thing Lowe is volunteering, as Principal Linda Darling is out sick, along with another colleague in the main office. Hart is in good hands. \u201cSome kids think (Lowe) is the principal,\u201d says Anna Marie Walker, a special education paraeducator at Hart who has worked with Lowe since 1997. It may have something to do with the way those heels trumpet Lowe\u2019s foreboding arrival, times when she reliably keeps students (and staff) on their own toes. \u201cShe\u2019ll get in anyone\u2019s face,\u201d Walker jokes. \u201cIn a nice way.\u201d The heels aren\u2019t always 3 inches high. Lowe sounds like a shoe salesman when she describes her closet options. \u201cI have every kind of shoe you want. Suede. Patent leather. All colors. Different heels. I have high heels, low heels,\u201d she says. \u201cThey complete my outfits. I\u2019d never wear flat shoes with a nice dress. That\u2019s a no-no.\u201d I can see why Lowe\u2019s colleagues once gave her a Barbie doll dressed as a UConn cheerleader. She has five closets at home, filled with \u201csummer clothes, play clothes, winter clothes, gym clothes, golf clothes.\u201d \u201cI don\u2019t buy anything anymore because I have no more room in my closets,\u201d Lowe confesses. That doesn\u2019t stop her from peeking through online catalogs from her desk at Hart. It\u2019s easy to trace the path of her heels back to the late 1940s. After graduating from Stamford High School in 1947, she went to modeling school and posed for a fashion house in the garment district in New York City for a spell. \u201cI was too short,\u201d for photo modeling, she recalls. Lowe doesn\u2019t hesitate to dig deeper into the closets for reasons she became a fashionista. She was born Carolyn Anne Annunziato in Port Chester, N.Y., on Oct. 9, 1929, 15 days before the stock market crashed. She endured the Depression in her native Port Chester, N.Y., before moving to Stamford. \u201cWe were very poor,\u201d she remembers. \u201cWe never really had any clothes.\u201d She wore ill-fitted hand-me-downs made by an aunt, putting pins in the skirts to make them fit. Cardboard covered holes in her shoes. She was a good student, earning enough credits at Stamford High School that she could have skipped senior year. She deems high school \u201cthe best time of my life.\u201d \u201cI loved school, I loved school, I loved school,\u201d she says. It took almost 40 years, but she eventually found her way back. After marrying Ralph T. Lowe, Jr., she moved into the home on Soundview Avenue in Stamford where she still resides (it\u2019s about 235 years old). With three kids, she took a job from 5 p.m. to midnight preparing financial statements for the president of Putnam Trust Co. on Mason Street in Greenwich to review the following morning. In 1986 she started a new career when she became school secretary at K.T. Murphy School. Retiring after a 37-year career in education is not atypical. Lowe\u2019s tenure just happened to start when she was 56 (her husband died in 1988). \u201cI loved it. I like people and all the kids and the teachers. It was really a great beginning at an older age. Something new and exciting.\u201d For those first few years, she embraced the school\u2019s location by changing clothes at lunchtime and walking laps at nearby Cove Island Park. She moved over to Hart in 1994. She took up golf around that time, playing Thursdays during summer recess at E. Gaynor Brennan in Stamford and traveling to try other courses and watch the pros at the U.S. Women\u2019s Open. Not surprisingly, she is not the type of player to pick up the ball when things go awry. \u201cWe all played terrible but we love it. It\u2019s just about getting out there,\u201d she say, slipping out another secret. \u201cI didn\u2019t care if it took 15 strokes. I never gave up.\u201d A pause for clarification: \u201cNot that I ever needed 15 strokes." She\u2019s already revealed several, but I finally ask the question directly: \u201cWhat\u2019s your secret?\u201d \u201cI\u2019ll tell ya. I really think exercise is very important. \u2026 And keeping the mind alert. I read a lot and do a lot of crossword puzzles. I think the best thing I did was to continue to work. You don\u2019t have time to think about yourself. If I had a pain in my back I\u2019d say \u2018OK, it will go away tomorrow.\u2019 " Exercise means 65 minutes on a treadmill the day before. Working out on 12 machines at Tully Health Center the next time. Golf season is coming. And she looks forward to swimming at Cummings beach come summer. First comes Retirement, Part II. She has April 1 circled on her mental calendar. It seems fitting, as Women\u2019s History Month will have lapsed (though I don\u2019t entirely trust her as it\u2019s also April Fool\u2019s Day). The only time she becomes wistful during our chat is when I ask about the Hart children. She talks about them greeting her in the office each morning with \u201cI love you, Mrs. Lowe\u201d and treasures when students of decades past return to visit. \u201cI\u2019m getting choked up, you have to forgive me.\u201d But retirement plans await. She wants to get going on finally giving the house a good cleaning, room by room. Trips to visit family members around the country will include time on the links. \u201cWith the good Lord\u2019s help, we\u2019ll see what happens. Hopefully, I\u2019ll have another couple of months or years. If not, so be it. I\u2019ve lived a long time. I\u2019m 93. Thank you, Lord. I\u2019m not going to make any long distance plans. Just day by day." \u201cJust like golf, one hole at a time,\u201d I tell her. The comment draws that joyous laugh, that cackle that has punctuated our conversation like 3-inch heels on the floor of Hart's halls. That laugh that can\u2019t hide itself among Carolyn Lowe\u2019s many secrets to living well. \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 John Breunig is editorial page editor of the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time. firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com\/johnbreunig.