“I’m a ‘plain Jane’ kind of person,” says Dottie Humphreys, owner of Dottie’s Custom Clean since 1985. In addition to cleaning houses, Humphreys does “move outs” and painting on a limited basis. “My first big job was cleaning for W. M. Jordan, Inc.. I worked for the company for 20 years. I have cleaned motels, schools and Christopher Newport University. One job had 300 bathrooms. And there was no power and no water!” Though these jobs are now in her past, she says, “I still think about them.”
Humphreys is 70 years old and limits herself to residential cleaning. She has 15 to 20 regular customers. Some have been with her for 20 years. She cleans weekly, monthly or as needed. “I have become good friends with my customers,” she says. Many are older. She likes to cook and takes food to them. “Everyone loves my brownies,” she adds with a twinkle in her eye. However, Humphreys does not eat them. She eats salads seven days a week. “I load them up. It’s like a meal in one. But my weakness is peanut butter pretzels,” she says.
Humphreys does not advertise; all customers come by word of mouth. She has no employees. If she needs help, her son will pitch in. “I really like to clean windows,” she adds with a smile. And, she has even “pet sit” for customers.
After her husband died nine years ago, Humphreys began running. She trained and entered marathons. “I wanted to prove I could do it,” she says.
She recently ran in the 5K Memorial Day event. “There were eleven 70-year-olds,” she says, “and I beat them all!” She belongs to the Peninsula Track Club and has entered numerous events. She runs half-marathons (13.1 miles) and whole marathons (26.2 miles) as well as other races. She is always in the forefront of her age group.
Humphreys goes to Mariners’ Museum every morning, usually with a friend, to train. They go rain or shine. “I use an umbrella if I have to,” she says. As might be expected, success requires a lot of training. “I have at least one more marathon in me,” she says.
Humphreys has converted her garage into a den, and the walls are covered with photos, clippings, awards and certificates. She always wears a costume when she competes and frequently is awarded “Best Dressed.” For the Daffodil Festival 5K in Gloucester, she wore a short yellow skirt decorated with daffodils, with a flower headdress and necklace.
Humphreys has not taken a vacation in 20 years. “I’m a homebody,” she says. She has no desire to travel. She enjoys the outdoors and has a garden in her backyard. Born in Newport News, she has lived in the area all her life. She has two sons who live locally and three grandchildren.
Humphreys has no plans to retire. “I love what I do and I like to be busy,” she says. “As long as I am needed and as long as I am able, I plan to keep on going.”
TO THE POINT:
Dottie’s Custom Clean
Address: 9 Redbud Ln., Newport News, VA 23602
Contact: Dottie Humphreys, owner