Less than 1 percent of the population lives to the age of 100, but four centenarians at JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow are among these select few. On August 21, these residents were feted with a special birthday celebration that included family, friends, staff, community members and of course, plenty of cake.
Two Turning 100
Fausto Zabeni was born in Pennsylvania and celebrated his 100th birthday on August 21. Zabeni’s family moved to Springfield when he was two. He served in the US Army’s 104th Infantry Division and worked many jobs locally including stints at the State Auditor’s Office and Indian Motorcycle. Formerly an avid golfer, he attributes his longevity to “good luck.”
Dr. Joseph Leal will celebrate his 100th birthday on September 14. A veteran of the Chemical Warfare Division, he received his Ph.D. in chemistry at Indiana University in 1953, and worked for a time in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. before settling in western Massachusetts. Born in New Bedford, Leal married in 1944 and has four children.
Two Turning 104
Anna Smith celebrated her 104th birthday on August 11. A long-time resident of Springfield, she and her husband Sam had two children and owned a shoe store on the corner of State and Main streets. Smith has always loved to dance and said she credits advice from her parents, “to be good and to do good” with her longevity.
Emma DeZalia will celebrate her 104th birthday on October 29. Born outside Pittsburgh, she was raised in East Longmeadow and attended the High School of Commerce in Springfield. She worked for a time at MassMutual before raising two sons, Peter and Paul, in East Springfield. DeZalia attributes her longevity to her “very supportive family and a caring, loving husband.”
During the celebration, Zabeni and Leal received commemorative pins for their service from Lena Vellturo, Veterans’ Services Officer for the Town of Longmeadow. Smith, Zabeni, Leal and DeZalia all received special citations from Representative Brian M. Ashe, as well as from Joel McAuliffe, district director for Senator Eric Lesser. Thomas Lachiusa from the Town of Longmeadow Select Board also attended and offered his congratulations.
Two More Soon
Later this year, two more residents at JGS Lifecare will celebrate centenarian birthdays. Florence Gooberman will turn 100 in November. She enjoys playing Scrabble and bingo, knitting and reading. Abe Neigher will turn 102 in December. He is both a resident and a volunteer at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home, where he sets up for bingo, bakes brownies for the coffee shop and serves as an inspiration to other residents.
“We are always delighted when we can celebrate these milestone birthdays with our residents,” said Susan Kimball Halpern, vice president of philanthropy at JGS Lifecare. “They add a richness and depth to our entire community and have so much experience to share. We’re proud to play a role in their longevity and to serve as their caretakers.”