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'Be good, behave, pray': 11 centenarians celebrate milestone birthday at Williamsville retirement home, share words of wisdom

Birthday crown for 100 years.jpeg
Posted at 6:59 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 19:08:16-04

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Western New York retirement home is celebrating a major milestone for nearly a dozen of its residents.

Cheers of excitement rang through the halls at the retirement home, with some residents celebrating a milestone many do not get to experience.

Canterbury Woods in Williamsville had 11 residents turning 100 years or older this year.

Add up all these ages and these centenarians, people who are 100 years old or older, they make up 1,115 years.

One-hundred year-old Aurea Leonard, said, "It's wonderful. This is a wonderful place. Can you imagine 11 of us being 100 years?"

Leonard, also known as the Canterbury cheerleader was one of the residents being celebrated, Thursday.

Other residents being celebrated were Alrena Maloney, who turns 100 this year, Bessie Kaplan, 100; Dolores Nelson, 100; Dr. Morton Rothstein, 100; Dr. Nicholas Leibovic, 101; Dr. Wilma Iggers, 101; Mel Livingston, 102; Laura (Lucille) Hakala, 103; Ruth Lansing, 104; and Betty Bowling, 104.

"I am the official cheerleader," Leonard said. "No, but I had a megaphone, but the megaphones got worn out and I got rid of them. So, at least I have these."

She said her greatest accomplishment was being a teacher, having taught history, arithmetic and good behavior.

"I was a teacher all my life," Leonard said. "All grades, from kindergarten to college, and today, I have hundreds and hundreds of students who still remember me so I must have been pretty good."

Doctor Morton Rothstein was also among those celebrating. He will turn 100 on September 8.

"I've seen this 100 years. One-hundred other times. So it's not very exciting," Dr. Rothstein said.

The California native moved to the Queen City after graduating from medical school, to teach at the University at Buffalo.

"I would just say the big thing is my career. As somebody who studied aging at UB for 20 years, I spent about $15 million of your money in grants."

These centenarians share their advice for living a long and prosperous life.

"I learned something very important: keep reading. Very important," Dr. Rothstein said.

Leonard said, "Be good, behave, pray, behave yourself but have fun. If you could combine those, I don't know."