TWIN FALLS | She embraced her age like no other.
Dorothy Custer, "Idaho's Grandma," died late Wednesday at her home in Twin Falls. She was a month shy of 104.
"She tried so hard to make it to her birthday," said her daughter, Carole Waller of Coeur d'Alene. "But her little body was just too tired."
Dorothy, who famously tandem BASE jumped on her 102nd birthday, recently made Ripley’s book “Shocking Reality!”
"BASE jumping is a very ‘Ripley-esque’ extreme sport,” said Edward Meyer, Ripley’s vice president of exhibits and archives and an editor of the book, which was released in September.
“A BASE-jumping 102-year-old woman jumping from a 486-foot bridge is unbelievable by anybody’s standards,” Meyer told the Times-News. “The story has all the ‘wow’ factors that Ripley’s is looking for.”
She's the world’s oldest BASE jumper, said extreme-sport enthusiast Sean Chuma, who in 2013 jumped with Dorothy from the I.B. Perrine Memorial Bridge.
A BASE-jumping friend gave her a pin pulled from a parachute that she wore around her neck. “It’s for good luck,” she said. “At my age, I can use all the luck I can get.”
On her 103rd birthday, Custer rode in a hot air balloon over Park City, Utah, and she rode the zip line in the Snake River Canyon for her 101st birthday.
Her inclusion in Ridley's book was a surprise to Dorothy.
“Oh! Where will I show up next?” she said, laugh lines deepening and eyes gleaming.
Dorothy became an Internet sensation when a video of her first appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” went viral in 2011.
An associate producer of the show grew up in Twin Falls. He heard that she had turned 100 and invited her to be on the show. Leno invited her back the following Valentine’s Day.
"No one knew how old I was until I turned 100," she said.
Dorothy built a solid following of people who call her Grandma. She has 980 "friends" on Facebook.
She was born Dorothy Bailey Cline on May 30, 1911, at her grandmother Bailey's home in Hailey. She grew up near the old town of Rock Creek, south of Hansen. Her father, Charlie Cline, was a ranch foreman for the Utah Construction Co.
She was schooled at Hansen and at the College of Idaho, and began teaching school in Murtaugh in 1932.
In 1937, she married Marvin Custer — who she said "was a shirt-tail relative of Gen. Armstrong Custer" — at her parents' home at Rock Creek. Marvin and Dorothy moved to Twin Falls in 1939 where they farmed for 42 years. They were married 68 years.
Dorothy credited her longevity to “staying active and good genes.”
Her grandmother lived to 97, and her great-great-grandmother, “who would sit on her porch in South Carolina and smoke a corncob pipe,” lived to 106, she said.
Her husband convinced Dorothy, at 90, to refrain from doing the splits. "Marvin told me, 'Dorothy, you're going to hurt yourself,'" she said.
A funeral service for Dorothy will start at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 2, at Amazing Grace Fellowship in Twin Falls.