The dining room was decked out with balloons and flowers, and a giant sheet cake was placed at the front of the room with Happy Birthday written in red across the vanilla icing. The momentous occasion even prompted State Representative Ed Neilson to bring state proclamations for all of the honorees. This is the Centenarian Club at Paul’s Run – 24 men and women marking their 98th birthday or beyond this year! On Thursday, May 16th – the Centenarian Club and their friends, loved ones and staff at Paul’s Run celebrated with a special luncheon. It’s been an annual tradition at the Northeast Philadelphia retirement community for the last five years.
“They’re just so proud that they’ve made it and all that they accomplished in their lives,” said Jeri Iocona, Life Enrichment Manager, Paul’s Run.
Members of this “club” come from different countries, different professions and different faiths, but they have at least one thing in common – they have achieved longevity in life that most people only hope to experience.
In 2012, the United Nations estimated that there were 316,600 living centenarians worldwide. The United States currently has the greatest number of known centenarians of any nation, with 53,364 according to the 2010 Census, 82.8% of US centenarians were female.
“It’s so hard to say that,” said Rose with a smile. “I just don’t feel that old.”
In a society that seems to be obsessed with looking young and finding new ways to live longer, Rose admits she doesn’t hold the secret. She never tried to eat particularly healthy or exercise.
“It could be genetic. My father lived to 92. Unfortunately I lost my daughter at 59, so who knows. I worked hard in life and helped everyone. I took care of everybody at home. I was the sole supporter of my mother and father. Maybe God has been good to me,” she explained.
Rose was born and raised in Philadelphia and she lived in her Oxford Circle home, which she shared with her husband until he passed away. Rose didn’t like living alone, and that prompted her to join the Paul’s Run community nine years ago. Today, she is surrounded by supportive friends and staff, which she said has enriched her life greatly.
“I loved coming here,” said Rose. “If I’m sick they take care of me and I don’t have to worry about the outside world.”
Through the course of an hour, Representative Neilson read all of the birthday proclamations aloud, and then handed them to each celebrant – the oldest one being 104 this year.
Rose clutched hers with pride, smiling alongside her fellow centenarians in the room. A happy birthday, indeed!