10 Long Island centenarians
More people are living past 100. Here's a look at 10 Long Island centenarians who share how you, too, can live a long, healthy life. -- Amanda Bernocco
Lucy McKie is 103 years old and has been living on Long Island since she was 9. She lives on her own in Stony Brook, although she calls herself a “snowbird” because she lives in Florida during the winter months. McKie belongs to two senior clubs in Florida, as well as two on Long Island. McKie keeps her mind young by reading; she has been an avid reader since she was a young girl. She also enjoys socializing and going to church to pray. “I certainly can’t go roller skating though!” McKie added.
Mae Miller, 102, has lived on Long Island her whole life. She received her bachelor’s degree from Barnard University in science and a master’s degree in teaching from SUNY New Paltz. She was passionate about teaching second grade because she loves children. She has three children, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Miller currently lives in the Leisure Knoll senior development in Ridge with her live-in aide. She credits her good health to eating right and exercise. “I try to keep on the go-go-go as far as itineraries are concerned,” Miller said.
Irene Walters, 102, lives on her own in Patchogue and has resided on Long Island for her entire life. She has two children and five grandchildren, one of whom was recently born. Walters worked briefly with her son-in-law in a florist shop, but her passion was always traveling. She traveled with her late husband and visited places such as California and Maine and went frequently to the South. When she isn't traveling, Walters loves to read. Walters said she doesn't do anything special to stay healthy, adding, “I just sleep and eat.”
Lillian Anderson is a 102-year-old Hicksville resident who was independent until she was 96. She was always an avid card player, and she began bowling at 62 years old, then picked up golf at 70. Anderson is also an award-winning baker. Her daughter says that her most famous dessert was banana cake. Anderson’s family says that she is a very positive and optimistic person.
Anna Herman, 102, lives in Valley Steam and came to Long Island from Europe as a teenager. She said she initially worked as a maid because she didn’t speak English. She eventually adapted to the culture and learned English, but she said it was very difficult. She met her future husband, George Herman, who was from parents’ hometown in Hungary, at a Hungarian dance in Manhattan. The Hermans moved to Valley Stream in the 1950s, and had one daughter, Margaret. Anna now has three grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Marie Sturm, 101, has lived in the same St. James home for 80 years. Always active in the community, she taught Sunday school, was a Girl Scout leader, a PTA member and a regular churchgoer. She keeps busy by reading, doing crossword puzzles, visiting and cheering up friends in nursing homes and talking to friends on the phone. Sturm was married to her husband, Richard Sturm, for 70 years before he died at 90 years old. "I wish it could have gone on forever," she said. Sturm said that she stays healthy by never drinking or smoking. “There are so many better things to drink that taste good, like orange juice and cranberry juice,” she said.
Louise Wasilevitch, 101, lived on her own until she was 98. She now lives with her daughter, Alice Anderson, in Stony Brook. Anderson said that whenever her mother goes to the doctor, he tells Wasilevitch she is amazing because she is still very healthy. Wasilevitch was a Girl Scout leader, sang in the church choir, painted and sewed. Today, she continues to cross-stitch and cheer on the Yankees. Wasilevitch said the most amazing development in her lifetime has been the Internet. Wasilevitch uses Skype to stay connected to her grandchildren, who live out of state.
Belline Passariello, 101, was born and raised in Westbury, where she still resides. To help support her family, she stopped going to school after the fifth grade and began working in a sweater factory, where she made zippers and holes for buttons. She also helped her father lay down bricks for St. Bridgid's Church in Westbury by mixing the cement. In 1927, she watched Charles Lindbergh take off at Roosevelt Field for the historic first solo trans-Atlantic flight. Today, she lives with her daughter and enjoys watching TV and going to Jones Beach.
Vivian Bell, 100, has spent most of her life in Riverhead. A friend, Fred Johnson, said Bell is very religious and was a big part of the church for more than 25 years. Johnson said Bell is a big inspiration there and all of the pastors love her. “She was good for the church and the church was good for her,” he said. Johnson lived in the same senior center in Riverhead as Bell, where they were often dance partners, before she moved in with her daughter. Bell also has two grandsons, nine great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
Charles M. Coyne, 100, has been living in the same Lindenhurst home since 1953. He went to school in Brooklyn, where he grew up and later became a print setter. He is active in his church, and has helped raise money for both the church and Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center when the hospital first opened. Coyne said his family is the secret to his longevity. He has six children, 13 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild. He has family over every Wednesday night, and they have Sunday dinner together every other week.