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Celebration of Aging

Office For The Aging

 

 

2017 Celebration of Aging Honors Senior Citizens of the Year
 

In celebration of Older Americans Month, the Office for the Aging awarded several Dutchess County residents “Senior Citizen of the Year” honors at the 19th annual “Celebration of Aging” held May 22, 2017 in Wappingers Falls.   The sold out event was attended by over 300 Dutchess County residents.

The Office for the Aging hosts the “Celebration of Aging” each year in order to recognize the outstanding contributions senior citizens make to Dutchess County.    Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro presented the awards to Jane Cole Geisler of Verbank, Carol and Nick Annas of Red Hook, and John Thomas of Hyde Park.    Receiving a Senior Achievement Award were the residents of Castle Court at Concord Village in of Poughkeepsie.

Also honored at the event were four Dutchess County couples celebrating marriages of 71, 72, 74 and 77 years, and seven residents between the ages of 100 and 102.  

Special attention was given to Vera Van Wagner who will turn 113 on Wednesday, May 24.  She is Dutchess County’s very first “Supercentenarian” – a person who has lived past their 110th birthday. As of today, Vera is the oldest living person in New York state, the oldest native Dutchess County resident ever, the third-oldest in the United States, and 27th-oldest in the world.

Vera was joined in the exclusive supercentenarian club this year by Sixta Tulia Aguinaga de Posada of LaGrangeville, who celebrated her 110th birthday in April.

The 20th annual Celebration of Aging is tentatively scheduled for Monday, May 21, 2018. If you know any Dutchess County residents who will turn 100 in 2018, or who will be married 70 years or more in 2018, let us know by getting in touch with Office for the Aging Outreach Coordinator Brian Jones at bjones@dutchessny.gov or (845) 486-2555.

 

DUTCHESS COUNTY COUPLES MARRIED 70+ YEARS

 

Lossie & Sam Lee (Fishkill)

Louise & Otto Tatar (Rhinebeck)

May & Andrew Ambrosio (Clinton Corners)

Anna & Andrew Fishburn (Wappinger)

 

DUTCHESS COUNTY CENTENARIANS

 

Connie Caccoma (Poughkeepsie) (102)

Bea Lacativa (Millbrook) (101)

Mary Summa (Dover Plains) (101)

Dottie Hoff (Poughkeepsie) (100)

Esther Paskey (Poughkeepsie) (100)

Martha Mercer (Poughkeepsie) (100)

Elizabeth Browne (Fishkill) (100)

 

 

 

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNERS

 

This year, for the first time that we can remember, the award is going to a group. The residents from Castle Court at Concord Village in Poughkeepsie have taken it upon themselves for the past dozen years to make a difference in the lives of many area children…scout groups, in particular. In turn, the children have taught the residents new skills as well.

Among their many examples of demonstrating older and younger generations working together, last fall the seniors and scouts together made 1300 candy cane mice, which were sent to sailors on the USS Roosevelt, soldiers in Afghanistan, and Meals on Wheels of Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park.

 

FEMALE SENIOR CITIZEN OF THE YEAR - JANE COLE GEISLER

This year’s Female Senior of the Year is Jane Cole Geisler from Verbank. She moved to Dutchess County in 1949 with two little children, and pregnant with her third…and got right to work volunteering, and she hasn’t stopped since. She remembers that her very first volunteering project was on behalf of the League of Women Voters, who were lobbying for New York State to legalize permanent personal voter registration. Back then, in the early 1950’s, you had to re-register to vote every year. Jane is a founding member of the Town of Union Vale’s Conservation Advisory Council, formed in 1970. Jane helped with town recreation progams, teaching everything from cross-country skiing to identifying wild plants and leading hikes on nature trails that she and the local Boy Scout troop maintained. She’s been heavily involved with the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. She’s currently the supervisor of the 12-mile section of the Appalachian Trail between Dover and Pawling, and until recently was still heading out to the trail to help clear weeds and downed trees. About 14 years ago, the Bird Club planned to honor Jane with an 80th birthday dinner, but she was called out to find a lost hiker on the trail and got to the dinner a little late. This time, Jane’s right on schedule and we congratulate her as Dutchess County’s female Senior Citizen of the Year!

MALE SENIOR CITIZEN OF THE YEAR - JOHN THOMAS

John served as an officer aboard the USS Boston in the early 60’s, worked for almost 40 years at an air turbine blade manufacturer in Connecticut, and when it came time to retire, John and his wife Nancy chose Hyde Park eleven years ago. Ever since they put down roots, John’s been volunteering as a jack-of-all-trades throughout Dutchess County, first for his church, the United Methodist Church of Hyde Park, then for Rebuilding Together Dutchess County…and beyond. Four times he’s been to Haiti to help a school and a medical center in a community that often had no running water, no electricity and barely enough shelter, and he’s also traveled around the US to help with disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, after tornados in Raleigh, North Carolina, and after devastating floods in Iowa.

John’s also a member of the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club and has won over 100 first place awards for his age group. He says running lets him eat whatever he wants, and while he doesn’t accept payment for the work he does around the community, he has been known to gladly accept a slice of pie after a hard day’s work. Today, for just a little while, he’s taking a break to receive his Male Senior Citizen of the Year award!

SENIOR COUPLE OF THE YEAR - CAROL AND NICK ANNAS

Carol and Nick have been involved in many local organizations as volunteers. Carol’s been president and secretary of the Old Dutch Village garden club in Red Hook, while Nick has been president of the local historical society “Historic Red Hook” and currently serves as volunteer chairman of the town Zoning Board of Appeals. He serves on the town water board as well. Carol also helps the historical society by providing volunteer apple pie baking classes, and has spent many a day making sure Red Hook’s 250-year-old Elmendorph Inn is in tip-top condition for visitors. She also spent 11 years as a Girl Scout leader.  Carol and Nick complement each other by supporting each other at various Red Hook-area fundraisers for local non-profits…so many of them they have a hard time keeping track of them all. Carol and Nick are a great example of what volunteers can do to benefit their communities, and we’re proud to name them the Senior Couple of the Year!

 

MARRIAGES OF 70+ YEARS

The first of the Dutchess County couples being honored today for 70 years or more of marriage are Otto and Louise Tatar from Rhinebeck. They went on their first date over 71 years ago, on Valentine’s Day, 1946 after meeting at work at IBM. Their first date almost didn’t happen, because Otto missed a bus and had to walk four miles in the bitter cold to get to his destination. Two months later they were engaged, and they married that summer. By 1949 they had moved to Rhinebeck and the home where they still live today. They’ve been active volunteering at Memorial Lutheran Church in Rock City and at Northern Dutchess Hospital, as well as the Masonic Temple, the Shriners and the Order of the Eastern Star. They have two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren – and in late July they’ll celebrate 71 years of marriage!

The Tatars came here today with another couple who live near them: May and Andrew Ambrosio of Clinton Corners. The Ambrosios met at an automobile factory in Brooklyn and were married in Connecticut while Andrew served in the Coast Guard. May & Andy moved to Dutchess County in 1964 and later both worked on James Cagney’s estate in Stanfordville, May as a personal assistant and Andy in farm maintenance. To this day they still live in the countryside near Stanfordville and Clinton Corners. This past January, May & Andrew Ambrosio celebrated 72 years of marriage.

Anna and Andrew Fishburn are originally from South Carolina, and they have a lot in common with many couples who have been married 70 years or more. Anna and Andrew got married during World War 2, in 1943, and like so many of the other long-time married men of that time, Andrew joined the U.S. military - the Navy, where he served with the “Seabees”. Anna and Andrew moved north to Poughkeepsie in the 1960’s. Anna worked at Hudson River State Hospital and Andrew worked at IBM for 30 years. They have one child and six grandchildren – and in less than one month, they will celebrate their 74th wedding anniversary! 

Before we introduce you to the longest-married couple in Dutchess County, we need to point out just how uncommon a marriage as long-lived as theirs is.America’s longest-married couple are John and Ann Betar, who live fairly close to us in southwestern Connecticut and have been married since 1932…that’s 84 years and counting. Another couple in Rockland County has been married for 83 years. But our local long-married couples are catching up, most notably Lossie and Sam Lee

Lossie and Sam were childhood sweethearts who married in Georgia, but they have spent most of their lives in Fishkill.  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 Sam Lee has been a deacon and member of the men’s choir, and Lossie Lee has been a deaconess and secretary of the Sunday school. Let’s congratulate them on being the longest-married couple in Dutchess County, celebrating their 77th wedding anniversary!

CENTENARIANS

Residents over the age of 100 are the fastest growing segment of our nation’s population and their numbers are predicted grow to over 1 million in the next 40 years.  One hundred years ago, in 1917, the United States entered World War 1. President John F. Kennedy was born in 1917, as were legendary performers Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Lena Horne and Dean Martin. A few great achievers born in 1917 are still with us, including architect I.M. Pei (PAY) and voice actress June Foray – you know her as the voice of Bullwinkle the Moose’s sidekick, Rocky the Squirrel.

 As of today the oldest living person in the world is Violet Brown of Jamaica, who turned 117 last winter.  Of the over 60 centenarians who live right here in Dutchess County – we are honored to welcome eight today from virtually every corner of our county.

Now for the youngest of our 2017 centenarians…

Elizabeth Browne was born at home in Manhattan in 1917. She spent the first half of her life in New York City, and the second half, and then some, right here in Dutchess County. With her husband William, Elizabeth raised five children in the Bronx…then relocated to Hopewell Junction in the 60’s. Over the years, Elizabeth has become a grandmother to thirteen and great-grandmother to fourteen children. Elizabeth has devoted her life to her family, often calling her children her “jewels and furs”. Elizabeth has enjoyed taking bus trips and participating in activities with local senior groups, staying current on world events and traveling extensively with family. She enjoys ongoing engagement in family gatherings and watching her family grow and prosper.  Elizabeth attributes her longevity to staying active, keeping her mind engaged, good ice cream, and keeping a strong faith. Elizabeth resides independently in Fishkill, NY. Let’s wish her a happy 100th birthday!

Martha Mercer was born in the fall of 1917 in St. Louis, Missouri.    At age 16, she began college at the University of Wisconsin.   She went back to school when her kids were in high school, and received a degree from Miami University in Ohio. Then she earned a master's degree in psychology from Purdue University in Indiana.  She worked as a school psychologist for a few years before developing a business selling antique and old and rare books. Martha often claimed she was better at collecting books and antiques than selling them. Martha grew up in a family intensely interested in entomology, botany, and biology.  One of her favorite pets as a child was a kangaroo rat named Stewart, who travelled in Martha's shirt pocket.  Her interest in plants and animals has continued throughout her life, and her sense of humor led her to wear a different, silly hat every time she saw her doctor.  That’s a lot of hats for a 100-year-old. Congratulations, Martha!

Dottie Hoff was born in New York City in June of 1917 and…as she put it, somehow found her way to New Paltz where she grew up. Dottie served as a nurse at the Hudson River State Hospital with great distinction. Then, after marrying and raising three children, returned to college and got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University. Now a Dutchess County resident, Dottie was instrumental in creating a two-year nursing degree program in New York State, and she even has a room named after her at the Hudson River State Hospital Museum in Poughkeepsie. So it’s official as her 100th birthday approaches – Dottie Hoff is a living legend!

If you’re a student of Dutchess County history, you’ll like the names that are about to come up in Esther Paskey’s life story. Esther was born in Poughkeepsie in 1917, at Mansion Square Hospital. The former hospital building is still there, near the southeast corner of Mansion Square Park. She graduated from Poughkeepsie High School and studied at the Wood-Perrington Business School. Esther worked for many years at Ketcham Motors in Fishkill. She and her husband Frank were married in 1940, and enjoyed camping with their grandkids and traveling extensively in their RV, visiting all 48 of the continental United States. Esther is also a life member of the Hughsonville Fire Department ladies’ auxiliary. Let’s congratulate Esther as she gets set to travel into her second century!

Mary Summa may have retired after a long and fulfilling career teaching at an elementary school in Mount Vernon, but she’s stayed as active as the kids she used to teach, because…she’s not –really- retired. She started teaching piano to local kids many years ago and is still going strong, giving lessons to kids all over her home town of Dover. Wherever she needs to go, she just plugs the address into her GPS and away she goes. So, when it came time to deliver her annual list of guests for today’s Celebration of Aging, once again she drove the winding roads up over Wingdale Mountain and brought the guest list…in perfect cursive handwriting…to the Office for the Aging in person! And once again it’s quite a list, as it looks like most of Dover is here with her today, so let’s congratulate Mary Summa on turning 101 this past December!

Bea Lacativa is another successful and active centenarian here with us today. She was born in the Bronx in January of 1916. She raised three kids, and worked in both interior design and social work. As a lifelong city girl, she enjoyed taking city buses to see shows on Broadway until well into her 90’s. Eventually, Bea’s daughter, a Hudson Valley resident, talked her into moving up to Dutchess County – but she’s still taking in shows in the city whenever she can! Bea also cooks for herself, which is a big part of what’s keeping her healthy as she cruises past her 101st birthday, en route to 102!

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 of any 100 year old living past this age is about 1 in 1,000 – but according to our records, there are now two supercentenarians living in Dutchess County – one in LaGrange and another in Rhinebeck. And in Amenia there’s a third almost-supercentenarian who turns 110 next month.

Those of you who have been to a Celebration of Aging before may be curious to know where Vera Van Wagner is this year. Unfortunately, she didn’t make the trip down from Rhinebeck this year…but her friends and family at the Baptist Home say she’s in good health and fine spirits as she comes up on her 113th birthday in two days. She’ll be honored later this month by Dutchess County as the oldest person in New York State, third oldest in the U-S, and 27th oldest in the world. And with a little good fortune and continued successful aging, we may have even more supercentenarians in Dutchess before long.

Connie Caccoma was born in Italy and came to the US with her family through Ellis Island when she was 8 years old.  She grew up in New York City initially and eventually her family moved to Poughkeepsie when her father was hired as a chef at the old Nelson House on Market Street.  Connie married her husband Frank in 1938 and together they raised 5 children and were married for 31 years.  The couple opened and ran the Collegeview Restaurant on Violet Avenue. Today, Connie lives in her own home with the support of her children and enjoys many hobbies including knitting, crocheting, reading, cooking and especially taking care of her cat, Eva. This July, Connie Caccoma will mark her 102nd birthday - and she's the oldest person here today at the 19th annual Celebration of Aging!

 

 

 

 


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Todd N. Tancredi,Director Todd N. Tancredi
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