Time traveling with Lillian Marks, a Brooklyn centenarian

In 1928, Lillian Marks graduated from New York University (NYU) with a history major—despite her father discouraging her from attending college.

“It wasn’t the thing for girls to go to college,” Marks said when asked if she could speak of fond memories from her youth, adding that his father, “thought that I’d feel superior and wouldn’t want to get married.”

Just minutes before, Marks was seen extending her arms in front of her as part of her morning exercises that take place on the fifth floor of Prospect Park Residence, which has been her permanent home for the past three years. Calmly, she grabbed her walker and led the way. It was almost time for lunch.

“I was born in 1907—how old does that make me?” asked the remarkable 106-year-old woman.

Sitting around a small round table, Marks spoke of the experiences that made her who she is, such as her hitchhiking days to California and Montreal and her numerous travel-around-the-world-tales.

“I don’t feel old,” Marks exclaimed, “I feel I’ve been very lucky.”

When she was 23, she and her partner in crime, Celia, bought $195 boat tickets for a 28-day trip to Palestine, the beginning of unforgettable traveling anecdotes that marked her life–which she now is proud to share with her great-grandkids. That was a time when rent used to cost only $20 a month and subway rides went for five cents.

Marks was born and raised in Brooklyn. She spent over 40 years teaching in New York City public high schools, influencing the newer generations of young men and women to go after opportunities.

Along with her husband, Joseph Marks, “a young man from England,” she initiated long friendships with figures such as the former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Holocaust survivor, Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank.

The residence’s Director of Community Outreach, Kathy Azbell, describes Marks as an “inspiration,” a wonderful friend and neighbor who attends all resident meetings and is active in morning exercises.

When asked about her health, Marks simply said: “thank you, it’s very good,” adding that her secret to longevity is “mostly looking forward and hoping for big things for the future.”

“No complaints,” she added.

She is a mom to three children: Daniel, a veterinarian who lives in Santa Fe, Mexico; Sheila, a successful artist residing in Washington, D.C, and Jonathan, a lawyer in Brooklyn. Marks said she married her late husband because of his “beautiful English actor-speaking voice,” which she found incredible attractive. They got married during the late 1920s and stayed together for more than 60 years.

The oldest-living individual in the residence, Marks published a book called Touch Typing Made Simple in 1985, selling over a million copies.

“I’m very fortunate to have a memory like this,” she noted, after having named everyone’s names, along with the dates of memorable occasions in her life, with no trouble.

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