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Woman skis on Lanier at 85 years old
85-yr old Skier pic1
Barbara Haig skis Thursday along Lake Lanier. She has been celebrating her Aug. 28 birthday by skiing for close to six decades. She turned 85 this year. - photo by James G. Wolfe Jr. Dawson Community News

Every year around her birthday, 85-year-old Barbara Haig has a simple tradition.

She grabs her water skis, enlists a friend to drive her boat and does her best to ski around Lake Lanier.

For close to six decades, she's been able to get the skis under her and stay up for a few passes.

This year proved no exception.

On a windy, overcast day Thursday, Haig managed three passes in front of her Lake Lanier dock, a feat that leaves friend and driver Ken Ross in awe.

"It's just truly amazing, that she can still do that," Ross said. "I've been taking her out since she was 80 and she still hasn't missed a step. I was amazed then and I'm still amazed now."

An Atlanta native, Haig has kept a home on Lake Lanier in Dawson County for more than 20 years and returns annually to see if she can still get her skis under her.

So far, so good.

"I don't do anything fancy, I just enjoy it," Haig said. "I've tried to keep doing it because I always said if I could keep water skiing every year, then I'm keeping up with life."

Haig said she has skied on many lakes over the years, mostly in northern Georgia.

"I've been to all the lakes up there but for the last 20 or so years, I've been coming to Lanier," Haig said.

A 1947 graduate of the University of Georgia, Haig has been an avid traveler for the majority of her 85 years.

She has visited all seven continents, more than 70 countries and all 50 states. She's been scuba diving, snorkeling and hang gliding, among many other activities that are "too many to name."

"I've always been active," Haig said.

When she's not traveling, Haig serves as a deacon and Sunday school teacher at Second Ponce de Leon Church in Atlanta and volunteers her time to many charitable organizations, including Meals on Wheels.

"And I come up to my house on the lake every week during the summer to work on my garden," Haig said.

During the summer months, Haig keeps a garden at her lakeside home, where she grows tomatoes, peppers and peas, while cultivating the vines of grapes, blackberries and blueberries, along with an apple tree, that she planted many years ago.

"Gardening is my hobby," Haig said. "I've planted lots of trees and shrubs here too."

While gardening may be her hobby, Haig's love is traveling.

Her lakeside cabin is filled with mementos from all over the world and they are some of her most prized possessions.

"Every time I look at one of them, I remember where I was, what I was doing and when I was there," Haig said. "It's a way to keep everything fresh."

Haig said she already has plans for her next adventure.

"Next I want to go hot air ballooning," she said. "I have that on my bucket list."

If the past 85 years have been any indication, there's little doubt Haig will soon find herself floating above the ground.

"I've been blessed with good health," Haig said. "So I've tried to stay active to keep it."

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