Story in Local Paper Starts 90-Year-Old Woman's 15 Minutes of Fame

By: (AP) A 90-year-old woman who saved her kitty from the clutches of a bobcat has been overwhelmed by her 15 minutes of fame.

The feisty fly-fishing enthusiast enjoyed the attention at first, and she was flattered by phone calls from across the country and offers to appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno in California and the "Today" show in New York City.

Thanks, Mildred Luce says, but no thanks.

"I'm just not that kind of person," she said.

The media glare was triggered by newspaper reports Saturday in the Sun Journal of Lewiston and Tuesday in the Morning Sentinel of Waterville of Luce's exploits last month. The Associated Press ran with the story, and soon Luce was fielding calls from The Boston Globe, the Portland Press Herald, and other news outlets.

"There were many, many calls. I couldn't keep track of all the places the people said they were from," Luce said from her home, where the Bigelow Preserve is her back yard and her visitors usually are an assortment of moose, deer, bear, fox -- and now bobcats.

Her neighbor, Cindy Rollins, has been running interference and helping out with the deluge of calls. "We couldn't get out of the house to go to Kingfield to get groceries Tuesday because of all the calls," Rollins said.

Even though the media has been a bit too much, it has served to cheer Luce up after the bobcat fatally attacked one of her cats, named "Foxy," the day before she successfully fended off a second attack on 20-year-old Smudge.

"She was so depressed about Foxy," said Luce's daughter, Martha Waltz. "She felt so responsible, and even told me she didn't want to live anymore. But when I talked to her this week, with all the attention, she had really perked up."

For her part, Luce says her actions were instinctive. She heard a commotion on her deck and saw that the 20-pound bobcat had Smudge's head in its mouth.

She grabbed an aluminum snow shovel and pinned the bobcat. Then she grabbed its head in one hand and pulled on its short tail with the other, allowing Smudge to dart away. The bobcat followed Smudge inside and was ultimately captured by game wardens.


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