April 23, 2015— In recognition and honor of Longmeadow’s oldest town resident, the Longmeadow Select Board and Adult Center today presented the Golden Cane award to Selma Paroshinsky, who is 103 years young, and a resident of Ruth’s House – An Assisted Living Residence, a program of JGS Lifecare.
Richard Foster, chair of the Longmeadow Select Board, Selectwoman Marie Angelides and Amy Saada, director of the Longmeadow Adult Center, made the presentation with family, friends and staff present. Selma also received a proclamation in recognition of her longtime residence and volunteerism in Springfield from Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno, who declared Sunday, April 19, 2015 Selma Paroshinksy Day in Springfield.
Selma Paroshinsky has been a resident of Longmeadow since 1980. Her family says she lives by a simple motto: “To have friends, you must be one.” Selma has tried to live by these words for all of her 103 years, always surrounding herself with loved ones. Prior to moving to Longmeadow she was a resident of Springfield, MA for 68 years. An active member of her community, she enjoyed helping others and volunteered over the years at several organizations including Springfield Library Association, Temple Beth El, the Jewish Community Center and Hadassah.
The third and only girl of four children, Selma had a close relationship with her brothers, Harold, Norman and Earl (Buster), as well as her cousins Myrtle and Eleanor, who grew up in the upstairs apartment of their two-family house. Although she is the only survivor from the house she grew up in on Whittier Street, she remains close with her brothers’ and cousins’ offspring and subsequent generations.
A graduate of Commerce High School in 1929, Selma began working as a bookkeeper, first at Belmont Laundry and then at Kimball Furniture Company. Later she was office manager for a pediatric dental practice, which was owned by her nephews, demonstrating once again her closeness with family.
Three years after high school, Selma married Milton Webber, a local wholesale meat salesman. Together they had a daughter, Rachel. Selma taught her daughter the importance of family, often visiting with various relatives on Sundays. After Rachel got married, she and her husband Joe raised their three daughters with the same family values, which are continuing on with Selma’s great-grandchildren.
Selma and Milton were married for 44 years before Milton passed away. A short time later, Selma’s friendship with Longmeadow attorney Arthur Paroshinsky developed into something more. They married in 1980 and she not only gained a husband, but also step-daughter Margie, her husband Don, and their three children. Arthur passed away in 1988, but Selma remains close with Margie’s family, which now also includes several great-grandchildren.
Although Selma has seen many changes throughout the world during her 103 years, she remains the same girl from Springfield surrounded by family and friends.
“For more than a century JGS Lifecare has been the proud caretaker of the elderly in our local community,” said Martin W. Baicker, president and chief executive officer of JGS. “We are honored to be Selma’s ‘home away from home,’ and proud to celebrate her milestone achievement.”
The Golden Cane award is presented when the holder passes away, and then it is passed on to the next in line, with all information verified by state records via the Town Clerk. The last presentation of Longmeadow’s Golden Cane Award was in 2013.
About the Golden Cane Award: The tradition of giving a Boston Post Cane to the oldest resident in towns throughout New England was started in 1909 by Mr. Edwin Grozier, Publisher of the Boston Post newspaper. He forwarded to the Board of Selectmen in 700 towns in New England a gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lives (or moves from the town), and at his death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town. The cane would belong to the town and not the man who received it. In 1930, that was expanded to include a community’s oldest female resident.
The canes were all made by J.F. Fradley and Co., a New York manufacturer, from ebony shipped in seven-foot lengths from the Congo in Africa. They had a 14-carat gold head two inches long, decorated by hand, and a ferruled tip. The head was engraved with the inscription, — Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of (name of town) — “To Be Transmitted.” The Board of Selectmen was to be the trustees of the cane and keep it always in the hands of the oldest citizen.
Many towns in New England, including Longmeadow, carry on the tradition, many with original canes, while others have had to replicate them, because they were lost, stolen or damaged. For many years Longmeadow’s cane was missing, and thankfully returned. It is now our tradition to present the cane at ceremonies, but to return the cane to the display cabinet located at the Longmeadow Adult Center where we have a plaque that lists the current and past holders of this honorable award.
About Ruth’s House: Ruth’s House – An Assisted Living Residence is a beautiful, homelike residence for people of all faiths who value their independence but may require some assistance with activities of day-to-day living. Ruth’s House is a program of Jewish Geriatric Services, a leading health care system serving elders and their families. Other JGS programs include the Leavitt Family Jewish Home, Wernick Adult Day Health Care Center, Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care, and Genesis House.