This 101-year-old Maine woman is still lobstering, and she has no plans of retiring anytime soon

There’s no stopping Virginia Oliver from doing one of the most dangerous occupations in the country — lobstering.

Ginny, as she was known to her friends, was born on Claredon Street in Rockland, Maine, in June 1920. Her parents, Julia Buttomer and Alvin Rackliff, lived on the same street for many years, but in a different house. She raised her four children there.

Her 78-year-old son Max now spends the nights at her house instead of living alone. It is easier for the pair to get up early with this arrangement.

Her late husband’s boat, aptly named “Virginia,” is docked at Owls Head, where Virginia drives with Max long before dawn.

Three days a week, May through November, she lobsters 200 pots in Penobscot Bay. Although her sea legs aren’t as steady as they once were, a rocking boat feels like home to her.

They make a great team, mother and son. While his mother bands the lobsters, Max hauls the pots.

Because she broke her wrist a few years ago, Virginia uses her left hand to work.

While she’s not busy with lobsters, she loads bait bags with pogeys and menhaden, which are small fish that lure crustaceans.

She said, “They call me the Lobster Lady.”.

Probably the oldest lobster fisher in the world lives in Virginia.

According to Wayne Gray, a family friend, Virginia had another scare a couple of years ago when a crab snipped her finger. She needed seven stitches. In spite of that, she never considered hanging up her lobster traps.

Virginia Oliver and her son Max lobstering

“The doctor admonished her, said ‘Why are you out there lobstering?’” Wayne said. She replied, “Because I want to.”.”

Virginia’s life was destined in some ways. Her father sold lobsters and sardines to a local factory. When she was just 8 years old, she would go lobstering with her dad and big brother, John, at a time when it was considered a man’s job.

“I’ve done it all my life, so I may as well keep doing it,” she said.

Nevertheless, she is concerned about the state’s lobster population, which faces heavy fishing pressure these days.

Virginia’s four children eat lobster the same way her late husband did.

“Being the boss” is what Virginia enjoys most about lobstering. Her family and she enjoy the independence that life on the water has provided them.

Max credits his mother’s work ethic for her long and healthy life. Virginia, however, says it’s all about independence.

She said, “You just have to keep going otherwise you would be in a wheelchair.”.

After being at sea, Virginia drives down the street to the grocery store in her white pick-up truck.

“I usually bake beans on Saturday and (my kids) come for supper,” says Virginia, who is famous for her doughnuts, cakes, and brownies.

Every week, she gets to bring some lobsters into her kitchen. A classic Maine lobster roll with grilled bun, mayo, and “nothing else” is her favorite.

Virginia replied, “When I d.i.e,” when asked when she plans to retire from lobstering.

“Everyone is going to die at some point,” she said. Why let it bother you? You won’t live forever, so why waste your time worrying about it?”

She recently renewed her fishing license and is looking forward to lobstering with her son Max this summer. 

Watch the video below to learn more about Maine’s “Lobster Lady.”


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