Happy Birthday Army, It’s 242nd: Theme: Over There

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Flora Luke, of West Philadelphia, was the city’s first female shoe-repair specialist, managing three shops and a hairdresser serving Philadelphians, “from head to toe.” In the 1940s, Center City’s Eve Rudin helped her husband in his oil business pumping gas into transport rigs.

They are just a couple of the seemingly ageless active centenarians, who are at least 100 years old and have over the years weaved the mosaic of Philadelphia’s grand and glorious history. Some of these centenarians have been alive during the advent of automobiles, airplanes, refrigeration, television and computers.

To celebrate their lives, longevity and legacy Mayor Jim Kenney on Thursday hosted the 18th Annual Mayor’s Centenarians’ Celebration, a luncheon to pay tribute to Philadelphia’s oldest seniors. The event took place at the SugarHouse Casino in the city’s Fishtown section.

Kenney recognized the contributions of more than 560 centenarians in Philadelphia — home of one of the nation’s largest centenarian populations. Nearly 193 known seniors will turn 100 in Philadelphia this year, according to the regional office of the Social Security Administration.

More than 110 Philadelphia centenarians, among the largest in the event’s history, attended Thursday’s birthday gala, along with proud family, friends and caretakers.

The event was designed to recognize the accomplishments of Philadelphia’s centenarians, or those soon-to-be centenarians who will be 100 in 2018.

This year’s theme is “Fortune Smiles on Centenarians.” Philadelphia residents were required to be 100 years old this year, based on Social Security Administration records, to be officially invited to the luncheon.

“There are very few centenarian celebrations of this magnitude, in which a city recognizes the achievements and longevity of its residents, and so we feel privileged to have the opportunity to honor this distinguished group,” Kenney said.

Kenney presented remarks, and a ceremonial proclamation officially declaring Thursday as “18th Annual Centenarian Celebration Day in Philadelphia,” as part of a national observance of Older Americans Month in May.

The mayor also posed in front of the huge ceremonial “100” birthday cake and over a chorus of “Happy Birthday,” dished out the first slices to the event’s oldest male centenarian in attendance, Eli P. Zebooker, a 105-year-old born in South Philadelphia, as well as Germantown’s Goldye Johnson, age 106, the oldest female centenarian and person overall at the event. The cake was made up of three large pieces shaped like “1-0-0.”

A native of Virginia, Johnson is a retired professor and also a librarian. She has a master’s degree from Drexel University in Pennsylvania. Johnson loves to recite poetry and passages from the Bible as well as listening to music.

She has a great deal of family support from her son, U.S. Army Major LeRoy Johnson, and daughter, Dr. Ami Diallo. She is of Methodist by faith and has been attending the Centenarian Celebration for three years. She currently lives in a home for retired seniors in Germantown.

Dr. Zebooker is a former Center City dentist, avid reader of history, collector of rare Philadelphia maps, prints, books and a Second World War U.S. army veteran who served in France and Germany.

His Society Hall apartment is filled with about 40 world maps, some dating back to 1730. In 2010, he donated his 50-year-old collection of Philadelphia maps, including 18th-Century rare finds, to the Athenaeum of Philadelphia (in Society Hill), resulting in an exhibition “Philadelphia Places on Paper.” He graduated from Franklin & Marshall College and the University of Pennsylvania Dental School.

“These amazing residents are among the nation’s oldest people, and have worked and raised families in Philadelphia — contributing firsthand to the city’s growth and development over the last century.”

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Source : http://www.phillytrib.com/news/city-officials-celebrate-centenarian-residents-with-fete/article_8d2c2324-5d6d-5c84-9c61-ec0528e753a0.html

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