It’s been a long time since Bay Ridge resident Goldie Sohn’s first birthday.
On Wednesday, April 12 at Shore Hill Neighborhood Center, Sohn celebrated her 105th birthday in between dabbing at the tears in her eyes and with a bashful smile on her face.
Over 60 people attended Sohn’s celebration, where she was awarded a certificate of merit from State Senator Marty Golden presented by John Quaglione. She also received recognition from Assemblymember Pamela Harris, and had her second ice cream cake of the week with the other attendees at the center.
A member of the “Seniors in Touch” program at the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone for over six years, Sohn — a Brooklyn resident for just over 90 years after moving from New Jersey at age 14 — said that Shore Hill is “The place to be. It makes you feel young.” Her secret to longevity? Staying active. Aside from word games and singing songs, Sohn participates in activities with the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Striders program.
According to NYRR Striders coordinator Wesley Davis, the program represents around 2,000 seniors and Sohn is one of the most active members.
Sohn’s daughter Marilyn agrees with her mother that spending time at the center was “one of the best things” she could have done. “It’s easier with her here because I worry too much,” she said, “I’d call her three, four times a day when she was home alone.”
Sohn’s aide Mariama Sesay said she is “blessed to be with her” for the third consecutive birthday.
“She’s the sweetest woman you’d ever meet,” said another aide, Berylanne Stubbs, who recalled that Sohn was shocked that she was the oldest in the center, and has since begun saying ‘I’m such an antique’ whenever she is asked about her age.
Among the guests and volunteers, Sohn is also known as someone who’s optimistic and generally happy about her life. “I’ve never heard her complain,” said volunteer worker Nina Valmonte.
“It’s not everyday we see that,” added volunteer from the Guild for Exceptional Children Marisol Cruz.
That said, Sohn also seems to refuse to let age beat her can’t-quit attitude. She insists on doing her own hair and rocking thin but trendy headbands, and has a plethora of exciting stories about her life, many of which center around her soulmate and husband Henry, who she met on an Ocean Parkway bench while waiting for a friend and married in 1941.
As a young woman, she also won first place in a beauty contest, which she shared she was entered into by a friend to confront her shyness. She is the fifth of seven children, and in the past served as a bookkeeper in the garment industry.
Today, she has a ritual of kissing a photo of her husband every night before she goes to bed, and participates in reminiscence exercises to share stories about her family. Music is also a big part of her life, and at her party sang along with a chorus of voices to “Happy Birthday” while guest Sylvia Burgess played along on the piano.
In the meantime, her family and the crowd at the neighborhood center are already looking forward to Sohn’s upcoming 106th birthday.