300 years celebrated in March by Brandywine centenarians

Three 100th birthdays in one month considered very rare
March 27, 2023

Getting to 10 is a pretty big deal for kids as they grow up. Although not quite a teen, once a child reaches the decade mark, they become a member of the double-digit club. Imagine how it must feel for someone lucky enough to reach triple digits. Now multiply that by three.

Three residents of Brandywine Living at Seaside Pointe celebrated their 100th birthdays during early March. Phyllis O’Leary, Anna Jean Smith, and Margaret Yakimowicz hit the century mark and celebrated accordingly at the senior living center. Escapades Producer Christine Warrington, who is in charge of entertainment at the facility, said they usually celebrate one or two 100th birthdays during the year. Three in one month is a very rare occurrence.

March 20 not only marked the first day of spring but also another day of celebrating the extraordinary lives of three wonderful women. A lot has changed in the world since 1923 - a year that saw the first home game played at the original Yankee Stadium, the establishment of Warner Brothers, and the first issue of Time magazine. Before the women celebrated their 10th birthdays, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart both flew across the Atlantic, Wall Street crashed and the Empire State building was completed. 

Smith and Yakimowicz found the 1940s to be their favorite time period. Not only were they just getting out of high school in 1941, but also, the United States entered World War II that year. Yakimowicz said that was the decade she began having children. She said raising them and being part of her children’s lives was the best reward of her 10-plus decades. O’Leary, a flower child, said the 1960s was her best decade.

One thing Yakimowicz has noticed is the change in the size of Lewes. She had lived in the First Town in the First State her whole life, moving to Lewes Beach when she got married and in town before that. 

“There was hardly anybody there. They only came for the summer, and at the end of summer they left and we didn’t see them again, but now they’re back the next weekend,” Yakimowicz explained. “It’s really crowded.”

Yakimowicz said some of the changes are good, but she preferred the small-town feel Lewes once had. She remembers not even having a car and walking to school.

“We didn’t have snow days. If we could get to school, we went; if we couldn’t we didn’t, but we walked,” Yakimowicz said.

Speaking of snow, she said the first television set she and her husband bought was a giant box with a small screen that was often “snowy.” A radio and a record player came built into the console. 

“The first movie I went to had no sound, just a piano playing during the showing,” Yakimowicz said.

These days, two of the three women maintain their exercise routines. The staff said not only are Yakimowicz and Smith very active, but also, Smith is still extremely competitive. During part of Smith’s birthday celebration, a cornhole challenge was proposed, and she managed to get two bags directly in the hole. 

“When you get this old you don’t do much, but one thing I love to do is exercise,” Smith said.

Yakimowicz said she walks 1 mile every day, but sometimes not in one outing. She says her secret to longevity has been to take care of herself as best she can, take medication as prescribed, and do what the doctors tell her to do. 

Yakimowicz remembers her 70th birthday as a jubilant celebration thrown by her family that included nearly everyone she knew. The 100-year-old said her family thought she was getting old then.

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