Introducing Members Of Our Three Century Club, Their Lives Span 3 Centuries: 1800, 1900, 2000

JANUARY 2000 - They've Endured Wars, Depression, Catastrophes And Personal Losses, Yet Their Spirits Remain High - In
this millennium edition of the Voice we are honoring several of our
members who on January 1, 2000 will hold the very rare honor of having
lived in three different centuries - 1800, 1900, 2000.

These
members, born in the late 1800s, can recall World War I, "the War to
End all Wars." This was the war of their teens - their youth. And
strangely, memory being what it is, this is the war they can remember
most vividly.

By the time
our country was engaged in an even bigger war, World War II, they had
reached middle-age and some had sons and daughters who fought in this
war, and Korea which followed shortly after.

And
still later, when our country was drawn into the Vietnam War their
grandchildren were serving our country. And in the closing years of the
century came the Gulf War and other actions involving our military
personnel.

Although it is
seemingly sad that these centenarians recall wars and also the Great
Depression as primary benchmarks in their lives, there was no sense of
sadness in their recall. It was simply a matter-of-fact "that's the way
life was" approach.

And if
there is one overriding trait or mind-set among these members, it is
that they have always accepted life as it is. They've endured the bad
times and enjoyed the good times, but never getting too up or too down.
They have had the innate knack that most of us could only wish to have
- the ability to virtually dismiss stress from their everyday lives.

It
should be noted that a number of these members were former teachers.
Perhaps teaching at an earlier period in time was not as stressful as
it is said to be today. But that is only speculation, we have no
answer. We have not been able to locate many centenarians among retired
police, firefighters or correction officers - only one. Undoubtedly,
there are more out there from whom we will hear.

Now, let's take a look at these three-century members and what we have gleaned from conversations and interviews.

 


Arthur Fench

Arthur
French, born on June 20, 1895 in Medina, Ohio. By the time he was 12 he
was the "man of the house." Despite this responsibility, Arthur dreamed
of going to college. From 1914 to 1916 he worked for the County
Surveyor for $2 - $3 a day. He managed to save $1,000 and started
college in 1916 at Ohio State University. Shortly after starting
college, he was drafted by the Army and was shipped to France where he
served in the medical corp. treating doughboys who were gassed by the
Germans. "After coming home I returned to Ohio State and graduated in
1921." Following graduation, Arthur went to work at UMass Amherst
(formerly Mass. Agricultural College) "where I earned $100 a month."
During WWII Arthur was back in France teaching college classes to
American soldiers. Arthur returned to UMass following WWII. He retired
as the head of the Agriculture Dept. in 1961. While at Ohio State,
Arthur met his future wife Edith. Together they had two daughters.
Edith passed away in 1985. Arthur is a proud grandfather and
great-grandfather. When asked what he does to keep busy, Arthur said,
"I play cribbage a couple times a week in a cribbage club. Although I'm
legally blind with 20/300 vision, I still do many things for myself,
and my doctors feel confident I'll be around well into the 21st
century." And so do we Arthur. He now resides in Colorado Springs,
Colorado.

 


Carolina Keyes

Carolina
Keyes was born in Italy on October 24, 1899. She came to the U.S. when
she was 5. One of 3 children, she grew up in Essex, Ct. She graduated
from Bay Path Institute in Springfield and became a teacher in
Grovendale, Ct. where she met and married the school principal, Rudolph
Keyes. They kept their marriage a secret because female teachers could
not marry and continue to teach. She taught until the birth of her
daughter. "Guess I couldn't keep that a secret." Together they had 2
children, a boy and a girl. In 1938 they moved to Marlborough, MA. She
then began teaching in Harvard, MA and retired in 1968. She drove a car
until age 92. Her husband passed away in 1979. She was named Women of
the Year in 1993 by the Marlborough Women's Club. Carolina's favorite
saying is: "No matter how long I live, I will never be able to do all
that I would like to do in my life."

 


Leon Davis

Leon
Davis was born on July 6, 1896 in Berwick, Maine. His parents and his
seven siblings operated a farm for many years. All the children had
chores to perform both before and after school. After graduating high
school, Leon entered the Army during World War I and served in France
where he played the trumpet in the army artillery band. After
discharge, he entered Northeastern U., graduating in 1925. He then went
to work for the Mass. D.P.W. as a civil engineer. He owned and flew his
own plane during the '30s which he kept at Logan. He met his wife Doris
and married her in 1935. Their only child Jon was born in 1937. They
were married for forty years and resided in Medford, MA. For hobbies,
he built his own working violin, did a lot of skiing and had
motorcycles. He liked to drive his Stutz Bearcat, and drove until the
age of 99. He neither drank nor smoked. On July 15, 1999 at the age of
103, he received from the French Govt. the National Order of the Legion
of Honor (Chevalier) Medal. His parents lived into their 90s. He says
he wants to live 2 more years to reach 105. "Don't ask why," he said.

 


Ruth Vasaturo

Rafaella
DeMichele was born June 9, 1899 in Italy. The name Rafaella was later
anglicized to Ruth when she was 13 and working in a stocking factory.
Ruth came to the U.S.A. in 1904 with her parents, 3 sisters and 2
brothers. She began school, but had to withdraw at age 13 to help
support her family. After graduating from night school she became a
nun. She was "extremely happy" in the convent but had to leave to
assist with family responsibilities. She obtained a job at the Medfield
State Hospital, met her future husband Peter and was married in 1929.
The Vasaturos had three children and two foster children. Peter died in
1957 at age 61. Ruth attended Mass everyday at St. Edward's Church
(Medfield) and to this day is extremely devout. She has never drank nor
smoked and has never driven a car. She says, "I'm in good health but
tired. I'm ready to be with God. I want to see Him face to face."

 


Henry Hanson

He
just made it under the wire as a Three Century Club member. His name is
Henry "Hank" Hanson and he was born on December 26, 1899. "My mother
told me that she was hoping for a New Year's baby. They gave prizes for
kids born on New Year's day and I guess since it would have been the
first day of a new century it would have been extra special. I heard
the first kid born in Boston that day was given all kinds of stuff,"
Hank recalled. A gentleman with a sense of humor, Hank also said: "I
have no memory, of course, of New Year's 1900 and the way I feel now I
probably won't remember New Year's 2000. I joined the Army in 1918 but
never made it any farther than England. The Armistice was declared
before I could be sent to France," he said. "After the war a friend in
City Hall (Boston) got me a job with the city. I worked mostly at
Public Works, didn't make much money, but was happy to have a job
during the Depression when so many people couldn't find work." Hank
never married. "I had lots of dates but was never even engaged. I
thought I'd get married sooner or later but before I knew it I was 50
and too set in my ways. I never drank much and stopped smoking 40 years
ago. Can't say that I had a very exciting life." And, is Hank excited
about living in three centuries. "I never thought much about it until
you people contacted me. I guess it's a big deal with most people. Like
I said, I don't get excited about things. I leave that to others."

 


Margaret Younie

Margaret
was born July 23, 1898 in South Boston, MA. Her father died when she
was 2 years old and she and her two brothers went with their mother to
live with her grandmother. When she was 17, she went to work at a bank.
She worked there until the crash in '29 when the bank closed. Later she
went to work for the state taxation department and worked there for 30
years. She met her husband Joe through friends. She was then in her 40s
and married him in the 60s. She said, "It was love at first sight."
Married just 15 years when he passed away, they had no children. She
makes all of her own clothes and played the organ for the local church
for many years. Margaret has traveled the world seeing all of America
and most of the continents. Constantly on the go, since she retired,
she often wonders, "How I found time to work." A product of the
Depression, F.D.R. was her favorite president. She says her longevity
for life is: "Loving her fellow man." Margaret has no regrets in life,
no serious illnesses and is still going strong. She enjoys a glass of
wine with dinner. She drove a car up to the age of 95 when she said she
drove better than most of the youngsters driving today. Her mother,
whom she cherished, died at age 84.

 


Freda Pasanen

Truly
one of the most unique and charming individuals we encountered during
the preparation of this article is Freda Pasanen. She was born in
Worcester, MA on March 31, 1898 - the youngest of 5 children. The
positive attitude and cheerful disposition she displays are the result,
she says, of the "love and affection I received from my parents,
siblings and husband." She met her husband Walter while they both
worked part-time in the same building. They married when he got his
first full-time job teaching in Malden, MA. The union lasted 70 years
until Walter's death in 1992 at age 95. They had no children. Freda
says, "My marriage was made in heaven; it was paradise." She goes on to
say, "People are not the same today as they were during my day. There
is no warmth, they don't give a damn about their fellow man." Freda
attributes her long life to her spiritual upbringing. "I pray several
times a day to God, and He shows me the way." Freda resides in Largo,
Florida.

 


Rose Lane

Rose
Lane, born on September 27, 1898 in Greenville, MS, was one of three
children. A graduate of Fisk U. in Nashville, TN she majored in
Education and English, taught school for a while and took courses at U.
of Chicago to get her masters degree. She met husband, Francis Lane a
dentist in Jackson, TN, married in Chicago and had two children. Rose
says, "Living for all these years seems like a dream, almost like an
unreality with all the things that happened in the world for three
centuries. I never thought of getting old and had a very interesting
life, with wonderful parents who provided me with everything to give me
a better life." Her mother made her read every day, and taught her to
live without prejudice toward anyone. Married for 13 years, Francis
died after a long illness. Rose moved to Boston with her children,
worked for DES for about 25 years, retired and then traveled the world.
She now lives with her son in Washington, DC. Rose does crossword
puzzles and watches the news on TV to keep abreast of world politics.
She was in perfect health until 6 years ago when she developed
arthritis. The most wondrous thing she ever imagined happening was
man's first venture on the moon in 1969, because she said, "Before this
happened I always looked up to the moon and thought there was a man on
it ever since I was a child." Advice for living to be a hundred, Rose
says, "Following the golden rule, do unto others as you want them to do
to you."

 


Frances Kling

Longevity
runs in this family. Frances was born in Latvia on June 15, 1899.
Unmarried, she lived in Concord, New Hampshire for most of those 100
years, with two sisters, one of whom lived to be 99 and the other 93. A
graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a Masters Degree,
Frances worked for the Division of Employment Security for 34 years,
retiring in 1969. She attributes her success as an administrator for
DES and her interest in education (she has a scholarship fund named for
her at the University of New Hampshire) to a high school teacher who
helped her fill out all the application forms, insisting she go on to
college. Her secret for longevity: "Work hard, study hard and never be
envious."


Ruth Boyden

Ruth
Boyden was born on July 20, 1899 in Woburn, MA Beginning in 1926, she
worked for many years as a librarian in Waltham. During this period she
met and married her husband Fred, an electrical engineer for Edison.
They were married for 42 years until his death in 1969. In early 1940
she began teaching in Stoneham and retired 21 years later in 1961.
"I've had a wonderful life, a great husband, wonderful son, terrific
grandchildren and great grandchildren," she said. Until breaking her
hip in April, she traveled a lot and enjoys music and singing.

 


Lucy Lentino

Lucy
Lentino was born on February 23, 1897 in Ariano, Italy. She came to
this country as a young girl, but vividly remembers Ellis Island and
the Statue of Liberty. She lived in many communities with her family
until she met her husband Joseph. They were married for 60 years. They
had 1 son, also named Joseph. Lucy was a resident of Medford for more
that 50 years and was previously employed as a social worker for the
Massachusetts Department of Education. In addition to being a wife and
mother, Lucy's claim to fame was being the official court translator
for the Sacco-Vanzetti trial. On her life spanning three centuries, she
said, "America has fulfilled all the wonderful dreams a young female
immigrant had nearly 100 years ago."

 


Daniel Kelliher

Born
in Malden on August 6, 1898, Dan has lived through more than a century
of history and been part of it himself. He is, after all, one of the
last living members of the 101st Infantry Regiment, 26th Division, with
whom he fought in five battles during World War I. He is also the
oldest retired firefighter in the state. Upon his return stateside,
Kelliher got a job on the railroad as a car mechanic and later operated
his own battery shop in Boston. Along the way, Kelliher married a
"Medford girl" Sue, and together they had three children. In 1929,
Kelliher joined the Medford Fire Dept. During his years with the
department, he recalls working the deadly Coconut Grove fire. Kelliher
even remembers the night he was called to his own house on Spring St.
after a gas powered refrigerator exploded. Luckily no one was injured,
but the incident was one the family never forgot. He retired in 1963
after nearly 35 years on the job. Summing up his 100+ years, Kelliher
says, "I've been a very lucky guy. I have a wonderful family, and I
loved being a firefighter." He is presently living in Port Richey,
Florida.

 


Frank LeBlanc

Frank
was born November 3, 1898. He looks 20 years younger. He retired after
working for many years at Medfield State Hospital. He moved to Phoenix,
Arizona 35 years ago because of severe arthritis. He believes the move
extended his life. He's a funny fellow with an excellent sense of
humor. "I have buried two wives, but I don't think I'll marry again."
He still lives alone and does his own cooking and housekeeping without
any assistance. He hasn't seen a doctor or dentist in four years.
"What's the point in spending money on doctors or medicine at my age,"
says he. He's had the same eyeglasses for 20 years. "I try to walk a
mile every evening when it's cooler. I'm still a Red Sox fan but also
follow the Diamondbacks (Arizona team)."

 


Bella Johnson

Bella
Johnson was born April 18, 1896 in Chicopee, MA. She taught elementary
school for 40 years in Chicopee and never married. Bella traveled by
herself all over the world. She is the only centenarian who says she
actually remembers the New Years Eve celebration at the turn of the
last century. She is in reasonably good health, but is losing her sight
due to macular degeneration and is hard of hearing. Otherwise she takes
no medication whatsoever. She never owned or drove a car and traveled
by bus to visit relatives and friends. She did a lot of volunteer work
mainly teaching people to read while she was into her 80s. How does she
sum up her century plus life? "I did the two things I love most, I
taught and I traveled."

 


Lillian O'Neil

Lillian
O'Neil was born in Boston on December 4, 1897 - one of nine brothers
and sisters, only two of whom ever married. The other seven of them all
lived together in their own home in Dorchester. Lillian lived there
until her 99th birthday, the last ten years alone, until she sold it.
Needless to say, the family was extremely close. Lillian is a very
religious, very giving, generous person. She worked 50 years for the
Massachusetts Department of Education, retiring in 1967 as head
administrator in the Business Agent's Office. Her health, both mentally
and physically is unbelievable, which she is convinced is her reward
for her faith in God and generosity and love for others. "I look
forward to each day and hope that I bring joy and comfort to those I
meet," she said.

 


Dorothy Fitzgerald

Dorothy
was born in Boston on December 27, 1899. She was married to Bill
Fitzgerald for 45 years and they had no children. She was employed by
the Appellate Tax Board for 50 years. Her husband was in the real
estate business and handled the transaction of James Michael Curley
when he purchased his home on the Jamaica Way. Her favorite saying is
"old age ain't for sissies." Her belief for her longevity, "Deep faith
in God, and the ability to be a good listener." Dorothy is in pretty
good health, but is legally blind.

 


Nora Walsh

Nora
was born in Ireland July 15, 1898. She was married for 40 years to Tom
Walsh and together they had 3 children. She worked 30 years for DES.
She has a "kid" sister who is still going strong at 98. Her main hobby
until her mid 80s was to visit the "Old Sod" every July. She's looking
forward to ushering in the New Year.

 


Bertha Feingold

Bertha
was born in Boston on January 20, 1899. She worked in the Registry of
Motor Vehicles for 25 years, and ironically never drove a car herself.
She has a sister still going strong at age 91. All of her life, she was
a physical fitness devotee. Up until several years ago, she walked
Revere Beach with a shoreline of 3 miles every day. Bertha never
married, but admits with a twinkle in her eye that she had many beaus.
When asked why she had never married, she replied, "Why ruin a
beautiful friendship."

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