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2014 Celebration of Aging

Office For The Aging


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Dutchess County 2014 Senior Citizens of the Year

An incredibly active and dedicated volunteer, Elizabeth “Beth” Devine is involved with the Wappingers Historical Society, the Wappingers Falls Economic Development Committee, the Grinnell Library, the Children’s Home, the Daughters of the American Revolution and many, many others. For her tireless work as a volunteer and outstanding member of her community, we are happy to name Elizabeth “Beth” Devine as the 2014 Dutchess County Female Senior Citizen of the Year.

Willie Lee Reed has been shaping the lives of young men in his community for decades. As an umpire for high school and college baseball games for more than half his life, and a faithful member of the Beulah Baptist Church for over 73 years, he has inspired countless others with his humble spirit and willingness to assist others. Today, we are pleased to bestow the title of Male Senior Citizen of the Year 2014 to Mr. Willie Lee Reed.

Dutchess County 2014 Senior Citizen Couples of the Year

Ralph and Sina (Seen-a) Macak (May-sick) have been residents of the Town of LaGrange for over 50 years. Rudy is a lifetime member of the LaGrange Fire Department and active in the LaGrange Lion’s Club. Sina volunteers at the LaGrange Middle School and with her husband is extremely active in their neighborhood organization, the Overlook Estates Association. Please welcome the 2014 Senior Citizen Couple of the Year, Rudy & Sina Macak.  The Macak’s marriage has lasted over half a century.

Dutchess County 2014 Couples Married 70 Years or More

The first of our honorary couples met in NYC seventy years ago. Dorothy Johnson was just 17 years old when her cousin brought a young army buddy named Adell to her family’s house one night. They went out to the movies for their first date and two years later they were married.

Today, Reverend Adell Johnson and Mrs. Dorothy Johnson are faithful members of the Poughkeepsie Beulah Baptist Church were Reverend Johnson is a minister and senior associate. They believe the secret to a long, loving marriage is to always be true to each other. This December they will celebrate 70 years of true love.

Harold and Florence Miller were introduced by friends back in 1940 and were married the following year. Just a few months later, Harold was called off to WWII and earned 3 battle stars. In 1952, the couple incorporated their first Charter Bus Company: The Acorn Coach. Harold was the driver and mechanic and Florence handled the office duties. They moved to Wappinger in 1978 to a house just down the street from here. This Christmas Harold & Florence will mark their 73rd Wedding Anniversary!

Sam and Lossie Lee were childhood sweethearts who married in Georgia, but have spent most of their married life as respected members of the Fishkill community. For several decades they were both members of the Fishkill Volunteer Fire Department and Lossie volunteered at the Fishkill Thrift shop. Since 1951 they have attended the Beulah Baptist Church in Wappinger where Mr. Lee is a deacon and member of the men’s choir and Mrs. Lee is a deaconess and secretary of the Sunday school. The Lee’s have five children, 15 grandchildren, 18 great-granchildren and 30 great-great granchildren. This December many of that large extended family will help Sam & Lossie Lee celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary!!

Residents over the age of 100 are the fastest growing segment of our population and their numbers are predicted grow to over 1 million in the next 40 years! If you were born 100 years ago, you were alive for Babe Ruth’s first professional baseball game, the first Mother’s Day, the first passenger airline flight, the first appearance by Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp and the opening of what would become Wrigley Field in Chicago. Some of the famous people who were born 100 years ago include Jack Lalanne, Boxer Joe Louis, Joe DiMaggio, Candid Camera’s Allen Funt and TV Superheroes Clayton Moore (the Lone Ranger) and Superman, George Reeves. The oldest living person in the world today is Misao Okawa of Japan who is 116. Of the almost 70 centenarians who live right here in Dutchess County – we are honored to welcome 17 today from virtually every corner of our county.

Mae Lawson grew up as one of seven children during the depression and as a teen worked at a department store to help support her family. In 1978, she moved to Poughkeepsie to be closer to her daughter, May. She was named grandmother of the year at her granddaughter's elementary school where her cookies and warm demeanor make her a bit of a celebrity. Mae’s incredibly positive outlook helped her fully recover from a fractured hip three years ago that doctors predicted would keep her from walking again. Today, Mae is still walking and celebrated her 100th birthday last July in Hawaii.

Anne McCue was born in Brooklyn and moved to New Jersey after she married her husband. They had one son together who they lost to cancer at just 52 years of age. Anne worked as a beautician and was an avid reader. She still enjoys trivia, socials, bingo and especially music. Anne even designed a “Score the Board Game” for the residents of the Pines at Poughkeepsie which is still used weekly by the recreation department. This summer, Anne McCue will celebrate her 101st Birthday!

The youngest of 12 children, Hulda Sellingsloh was President of her High School Class and went on to study law. She has been a member of the Texas Bar Association for 74 years. Hulda moved to Beacon with her late husband August where together they raised four successful children. Hulda discovered a talent for painting and poetry late in life and even had one her poems published at the age of 100. She believes you need to be happy doing some type of productive work. Being active and having an interest in producing a good life are essential to a long, fulfilling life. Hulda Sellingsloh celebrated her 101st birthday last November.

Daniel Lichtenberg was born and raised in the Bronx and has been a book collector since the age of 5. When he tried to go into the book collecting business as a college student, he says he found out quickly it was a good way to starve to death. His girlfriend at the time wouldn’t marry him until he had a real job – so Daniel went to college and had a long career in social work. Longer still was his 70 year marriage to that girlfriend – his first wife Ann. Daniel is joined today by his second wife Pearl who he met while buying books. He says his aspiration since he was young was to be retired and that one of his greatest pleasures in life is talking – and we’ll give him a chance….as last November he turned 101 years young!

Dorothy McGhee was born in Millerton in 1912 and has been living in the same house since she was eleven months old. During WWII, she joined the Marine Corps and after the war married her husband, whom she had known since childhood. Some of you may know her smiling face from the Millerton Post Office where she worked for 30 years. Dorothy’s favorite activity is gardening. She says that she really "likes to get out there and dig in that dirt." Today she still gets her hair done, goes shopping, and goes out to lunch at least once a week. Dorothy celebrated her 101st birthday last November.

Florence Stone has been a worker all her life. She started working at age 14 in the Mills in Massachusetts, retired from IBM in 1970, became a jeweler at Zimmer Brothers and until just 3 years ago she did beading work at home for Dees Jewelers. Florence and her husband Harold had one son also named Harold. They are both gone now and for the past 17 years she has lived with her daughter-in-law Christine who joins her here today. Florence has asked for your prayers as she has been battling cancer for the past year – it has even caused her to have to give up driving 6 months ago. This July, Florence Stone will turn 102 years old.

Mary Autera has Centenarian genes. Mary’s mother lived to be 105, her aunt lived to be 100 and her father lived to 98. Mary is a strong believer in staying active and not sitting around. She enjoys a variety of activities at the Pines at Poughkeepsie including exercise, music, playing games, religious services and staying social. This summer, Mary will mark birthday number 103.

Ethel Doshna lived her entire life in Yonkers until 4 years ago when she moved in with her daughter on her horse farm in Amenia. She worked for NY Telephone and was married to her husband Michael for 65 years until he passed away just shy of his 98th birthday. Ethel was an avid bowler and even appeared on the Rosie O’Donnell show representing the Women’s International Bowling Congress. She still enjoys getting her hair & nails done every week and goes to church every Sunday. Just last month, Ethel Doshna turned 103.

Anna Thomas, says she is a proud descendent of freed slaves. She was a telephone operator and a seamstress before finding her calling when she became a nurse – a job she loved until the day she retired. Her daughter, Barbara, says that the career was a great fit because she is "kind, soft-spoken, and has a gentle force about her." Today, Anna still loves working with people and volunteers frequently and attends the Office for the Aging’s Tri-Town Senior Friendship Center. She enjoys playing dominoes, solving word puzzles, reading, and is an avid Phillies fan. According to her family, Anna is as strong and independent as ever, which is no small feat at 103 years young.

Mazie Johnson was one of 16 siblings who grew up attending a church built by their grandfather shortly after the Civil War. She graduated from Allen University and became an elementary school teacher at a school for children of color in the rural south. In 1936, Mazie moved to Beacon and soon married her first husband Henry with whom she raised 4 children. As the oldest resident of Beacon, Mazie was named an honorary member of the Beacon Centennial Committee and filmed for their Centennial Video as well as a documentary on the Black Heritage Network. Please welcome Mazie Johnson who will mark her 105th Birthday this September!

One of our few male centenarians, Harold Goldstein loves to email and surf the internet! He is also a proud member of the Beacon Sloop Club and supporter of their environmental preservation activities. He calls himself the “ancient mariner” and built has built several boats in his lifetime. Up until a few years ago he would still sail solo on Sylvan Lake. Always favoring us with a wise word, this August, the very quick witted Harold Goldstein will mark birthday number 105!

Theresa Riglione was born in Italy and was just 4 months old when she emigrated with her parents to lower Manhattan. She bought a summer home in Hopewell Junction in the 1950’s and in 1968, moved there permanently. She never had a driver’s license and after her husband passed away in 1970, she spent the next 36 years living independently thanks to friends, relatives and transportation services like Dial-A-Ride. Today she makes her home at Wingate at Dutchess where she marked her 105th birthday last November.

Anna Mae Swenson is a Poughkeepsie native who many of us know as the lady who eats 9 raisins a day soaked in gin to ward off arthritis. From the age of 3, Anna Mae was a soloist in her church choir and performed at events like the 1939 Hyde Park visit of King George and Queen Elizabeth. At the age of 80 she started biking 10 miles a night on an exercise bike, and these days when she doesn’t have an exercise or stretching class, she still peddles her stationary bike. She has biked the equivalent of more than 3 times around the world. To keep her mind active Anna Mae plays bridge twice a week. Even though she suffers from macular degeneration she still lives independently at Arbor Ridge in Rhinebeck. We’re excited to welcome her back as last November Anna Mae Swenson peddled past her 105th birthday!

Anna Mae Swenson was friends with our next honoree more than 70 years ago when they were young married women living in Poughkeepsie. Before we introduce to you our final honoree, we must provide you with some background information. The term “Supercentenarian” is used to describe any centenarian who has lived to or passed their 110th birthday. The chance a 100 year old living past this age is about 1 in 1,000. Although there are thought to be over 300 supercentenarians living today – the number of “officially verified” centenarians numbers less than 80 in the entire world. To be “officially verified,” a centenarian’s birth date must be validated by an international body widely recognized for longevity research. Joining us today here at the Celebration of Aging is Louis Epstein, a researcher with the Gerontology Research Group, the premier organization working to validate supercentenarians. We tell you all of this, because Dutchess County is about to have our first Supercentenerian! This coming Saturday, Ms. Vera Van Wagner will celebrate her 110th birthday! Vera moved to Poughkeepsie as a young girl and was married her husband Thurlow for 64 years. They were both mentioned frequently in the early 1900s society pages of what was then the Poughkeepsie Eagle, and is now known as the Poughkeepsie Journal. Vera lived in her own home well into her 100’s with help from her family and currently resides at the Baptist Home in Rhinebeck where they are throwing a HUGE party in her honor on Saturday. Please help us welcome the eldest living person in Dutchess County – five days shy of 110 years old - Ms. Vera Van Wagner.

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Todd N. Tancredi,Director Todd N. Tancredi
Dutchess County Seal