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Fresh Meadows resident Claire Goldberg, who still lives on her own and uses an iPad, celebrated her 100th birthday in style last week surrounded by three generations of her family and elected officials.
Goldberg, lively and self-possessed, seemed quietly pleased and humbled at the festivities taking place in her honor.
Standing in a packed room of smiling family and friends at Selfhelp’s Fresh Meadows senior program, at 67-00 192nd St., she received an official state Assembly proclamation from Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens).
“People ask me what is my secret,” Goldberg told her guests seated at tables with pizza and refreshments. “And my secret, really — I don’t have one .... I eat everything.”
Goldberg was born in Newark, N.J., Aug. 26, 1912. After moving around in her youth, including a stint in West Virginia, she and her husband settled in Fresh Meadows 64 years ago. Their daughter and only child was 12 years old at the time and was one of the first students to graduate from PS 26.
As the years went by, her husband continued his work at Columbia Pictures, selling movie contracts, and Claire started working at a child guidance center in Flushing as an intake worker and secretary, retiring in 1983.
In addition to her daughter, she has four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
She remembers the early years in Fresh Meadows fondly, she said, when she was making new friends who were moving to the community after World War II and everyone was having children.
She said the community was more personal and relaxed during those years, without some of the modern headaches like heavy traffic.
These days she said she fills her schedule with golf, cards games, trips to museums and the theater and enjoying her family and friends.
Her granddaughter, Janet Beckett, said Goldberg is as healthy as can be with an active lifestyle and lives independently.
Beckett even spoke in amazement that her grandmother was in tune with modern times, frequently using her iPad and chiding her relatives for not e-mailing her enough.
“You’d really never know she was 100,” Beckett said.
Stavisky had her own theory about what keeps people sharp in old age.
She told the partygoers a story about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and how at the age of 95 he began reading Plato’s writings in their original Greek language in order to improve his mind.
“I think that has a lot to do with it,” Stavisky said. “Improving your mind, constantly learning new things, doing new things,” she said.
Goldberg interrupted by quipping, “I guess mine is playing bridge.”
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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