Local | P.S.

Seniors celebrate a century and intergenerational friendships

Centenarians unite

Ruth C. Goodman with her son, Roy Goodman

On Friday, May 3, the Pima Council on Aging and Tucson Medical Center sponsored the 32nd annual Salute to Centenarians event at TMC’s Marshall Conference Center. This gathering, the largest known convergence of centenarians in the United States, attracted close to 50 attendees, ages 99+, accompanied by their families and/or caregivers. This year’s theme for the luncheon program was:  Connect, Create, Contribute. Here are two of the honorees:

Ruth C. Goodman, 99, was born in New York City, the fourth of five children of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. She loved to sing, dance, and teach the new dances to the other kids in the neighborhood. One of Ruth’s earliest memories was as a 5-year-old in 1925, observing a total solar eclipse over the city. She remembers being in the street with others, holding a special filmstrip over her eyes to protect them.

After high school graduation and working as a secretary and then buyer for a few years, in 1948, Ruth flew to Southern California. Loving the region, she relocated. There she met her late husband, Lester, of 62 years. In 2015, she moved to Tucson to be close to her son, Roy Goodman.

Ruth and Lester’s late daughter, Susan, was born with Down syndrome; Ruth worked with the Exceptional Children’s Foundation in Los Angeles to help establish school programs and facilities for special-needs students at a time when nothing of the sort existed. Due to her efforts, Susan and others were able to go to school and also learn household skills. 

Along with being a wife and mother, Ruth was active in various charities, fundraisers, and amateur theater groups. Over the years, she has taken classes in sewing, yoga, tai chi, Feldenkrais, belly dancing, creative writing, tennis, bridge, and cosmetology. In her senior community, she is a regular at twice-weekly chair Zumba classes and riding the stationary bike in the gym.

Judy Weitzner Gamboa with her mother, Mollie Weitzner

Mollie Weitzner, 99, also was born in New York City.  She has one daughter, Judy Weitzner Gamboa, and a grandchild. She was an office manager and has traveled to Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Europe, China, and Israel.  Mollie attends theater and opera. Our honoree goes to book clubs, and although she cannot see, she listens to CDs. She is a member of Hadassah and enjoys going to lunch with friends. Celebrating holidays with family and going to the gym have been a part of her life for the past 36 years. 

Tracing Roots 2.0

Hot off the press!  The newly printed book, “Stories and Sechel (wisdom) from our Elders” records the biographies of Handmaker residents as written by their Tracing Roots 2.0 teen partners. The Tracing Roots intergenerational program, now in its third year, is a collaboration between Tucson Hebrew High and Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging. 

Erika Spivack, a recent University High School graduate and program participant for all three years, wrote the book’s introduction. “This program has not only taught me about interacting with the elderly, but I learned a lot about myself in the process. I hope that Tracing Roots continues to teach teens in Tucson and bring smiles to the residents’ faces for generations to come!” she said.

Nanci Levy, Handmaker’s community outreach coordinator, added, “Tracing Roots has had a profound impact on the teens and residents. We have several teen participants from past years who still come back and visit their Handmaker resident partners. One took his partner out to lunch last week while on college break.”    

The book is dedicated to late Handmaker resident Brian Litwak, who died in December 2018, as this year’s program was getting started. The 10 elder/student partners are Ruth Cooper/Gianna Lampert; Mort Edberg/Sam Goldfinger; Betty Light/Lulu Youngerman; Elaine McLain/Sophie Silverman; Dottie Rivers/Maya Levy; Sarah Segal/Paige Feldman; Marcie Sutland/Sophie Bergantino; Lee Waldman/Rachel Rudner; Lois Waldman/Brenna Yalen; and Ethel Weissman/Yuval Barel.

To purchase the $10 book or for information on next year’s program, contact Nanci Levy at [email protected], or Rabbi Ruven Barkan, Tucson Hebrew High principal, at
[email protected]

Time to share

It’s the end of May and time for summer hiatus. Keep me posted at the Post — 319-1112. The next P.S. column will appear in the Sept. 27 Rosh Hashanah issue and cover Israel summer travel. Stay cool and happy adventures.  L’shalom.