Profiles in longevity

A new nonagenarian

Guess who just turned 90? Her birthday invitation, using the numbers “9” and “90,” gave some clues:

1) She advised 9 U.S. presidents on how to improve aging services.

2) She has collected more than 90 giraffes.

3) 9 is associated with the Chinese dragon, a symbol of magic and power.

4) In Hebrew, 90 is tzaddik which means “righteous person.”

Marian Lupu
Marian Lupu

The celebrant and social activist is none other than the founder and past executive director of the Pima Council on Aging from 1965-2006, Marian Lupu. On April 26, family and friends feted Lupu at an open house birthday party at the Hotel Tucson City Center. The afternoon celebration included a continuously running slide show of Marian’s life and accomplishments, presentations and a dance performance by Dancing in the Streets Arizona. Since retirement, Lupu has served as board president of this diverse performing arts group, primarily for at-risk youth, which was founded by her daughter and son-in-law, Soleste Lupu and Joseph Rodgers. As Marian said last year in a profile by Associate Editor Sheila Wilensky in the Arizona Jewish Post, “Staying involved with what excites me challenges me to give meaning to my life beyond my own existence. That’s why I’m so happy to be working with children.”

On April 28, the Hon. Raul M. Grijalva entered the AJP article into the Congressional Record of the 114th Congress as part of his remarks “to congratulate and honor my dear friend Marian Lupu; a visionary and warrior in the fight for fairness and social justice. Marian has never ignored the plight and needs of others … I remain humbled and privileged to know and call Marian Lupu my friend and ally.”

Annual centenarian celebration

On May 1 at Tucson Medical Center’s Marshall Conference Center, PCOA and TMC hosted their 28th Salute to Centenarians. This annual event, honoring those 99 years old and older is held during Older Americans Month. Each centenarian received a photographic portrait and gift package including a commemorative booklet. The lunch featured a celebration cake and musical entertainment.

We salute three of these eldest citizens in our community:

Irving Olson with one of his "water-drop" photographs
Irving Olson with one of his “water-drop” photographs

Born on Nov. 26, 1913 in New Britain, Conn., Irving J. Olson has one daughter, one son, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A student during the Great Depression, he attended the University of Akron in the early 1930s but left to focus on his already burgeoning business, Olson Electronics, in Akron, Ohio. He sold this thriving mail-order business in 1962 to Teledyne Industries, retiring at age 50. Irving met his late wife of 71 years, Ruth, at bingo. He was calling out the numbers and a woman sat down in front of him. He saw her card and kept calling her numbers. That’s how he won her over. The couple traveled to more than 150 countries in pursuit of captivating images for his longstanding passion for photography. Irving’s award-winning photographs are on display nationally and in private collections. More recently, he created “water-drop” photographs — images that capture the exact moment when two or three droplets collide. The Olsons established two scholarships for students enrolled in the University of Arizona’s School of Art. In 2013, on his 100th birthday, the University of Akron bestowed upon him an honorary doctorate of humane letters, recognizing his career and lifetime achievements. Irving’s formula for living to 100: “50 percent is having the right spouse; 45 percent is doing everything in moderation; 5 percent is not taking any crap from anyone.”

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June Wallis
June Wallis

Born on June 30, 1915 in Atlantic City, N.J., June B. Wallis has one son, one daughter, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. June has been a volunteer at Handmaker Services for the Aging, served at PCOA as an advocate and on the advisory council for six years, been an exam proctor, sat on a reverse mortgage board and volunteered at Temple Emanu-El and St. Joseph’s Hospital. She enjoys knitting, reading, crossword puzzles and travel. June recommends “to save some youth for your old age — you’re going to need it, and to help yourself by helping others.”

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Yetta Weston
Yetta Weston

Born on Jan. 14, 1916 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Yeta B. Weston has three daughters, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. She is a first generation American. A graduate of Brooklyn’s Thomas Jefferson High School and student at the Pratt Institute, she met her late husband of 67 years, Aaron Weston, while both worked at a camp in the Catskills. It took Yeta seven years to say “yes” to marrying him. She and Aaron were writing their wedding invitations on Dec. 7, 1941 when they heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed; they married on Jan. 11, 1942. Following Aaron’s wartime military service as a flight surgeon, the couple raised their family on Long Island, where Aaron practiced family medicine and Yeta worked as his nurse and office manager. Over the years, Weston participated in charity work, fine stone sculpting, collecting items from their travels, writing prose and poetry, and making costumes, greeting cards and other creative art. In 1998, the couple moved from Great Neck, N.Y., to Green Valley to be closer to family. Aaron acted as lay rabbi for the newly formed Beth Shalom Temple Center; Yeta became the lay rebbetzin. At her Tucson senior living community, Yeta participates in water and aerobic exercises. She loves to read, travel, and attend local events. At her 4’8” stature, Yeta’s biggest concession to becoming a centenarian is agreeing to stop wearing high heels.

Time to share

Time flies and the temperatures are reaching near triple digits again. Happy summer — P.S. will be back in print on Sept. 11 in the Rosh Hashanah issue. L’shalom.