Mary* celebrated her 100th birthday on March 3rd, 2014 at Youville House in Cambridge. She invited friends and family from the area, as well as residents and staff at Youville, for an afternoon of ice cream.
Born in 1914, Mary grew up in Somerville with seven siblings. She attended Regis College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Latin and Greek. She got her first job in 1935, not as a teacher of the classics as she’d expected, but as a typewriting instructor. “This was during the Great Depression, and teachers were a dime a dozen in those days,” she recalls. “I didn’t know the first thing about typewriting, so I enrolled in a class that met the day before the class I was supposed to teach. I figured I could learn what I needed, and then teach it to my students the next day.”
Mary later taught a variety of subjects at Fisher College, which was then a small business school in Somerville. She stayed at Fisher for 35 years and became the Dean of the school. At the age of 55 she took a break from professional life to earn a doctoral degree from the University of Florida. She then resumed her career in college administration as head of the Business Department at Virginia Western Community College. Mary returned to Massachusetts after retirement to be closer to her relatives.
She remains remarkably healthy and independent, often spending entire days out visiting with friends or relatives in the Boston area. “For whatever reason, I have made a lot of friends, and I seem to keep making them,” says Mary. “My friends are what keep me going.” Mary’s interest in connecting with younger generations has, in her view, played an important role in her health and well-being. She has a total of 27 nieces and 26 grand nieces, and stays in contact with all of them. “If I was only friends with people my age, there wouldn’t be any friends left,” she says. When asked if she had any special secrets for healthy aging, she responded with this provocative advice: “Chocolate and ice cream.”
*This resident’s name has been changed for privacy.