CEDAR RAPIDS — Lorraine Hass was 9 months old when William H. Taft was elected president in November 1908.
She was 12 when women won the right to vote in the United States, 20 when penicillin was discovered, 33 when Pearl Harbor was attacked and 55 in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Now 109 years old, Hass is the oldest resident at Cottage Grove Place, an independent living, assisted living and nursing care facility in Cedar Rapids.
But she’s not the only centenarian at the facility.
In fact, for the first time in its history, Cottage Grove Place, 2115 First Ave. SE, has 10 residents over the age of 100. The center celebrated Wednesday with a party during which residents shared cake, memories and wisdom with family and friends.
Born in Knoxville, Iowa, Hass attended college in Missouri and Nebraska. After teaching high school in Nebraska for four years, she married and returned to Iowa with her husband to start a family.
Hass doesn’t know the secret to longevity, she said, but her best advice for younger generations is to “live a life of luxury and be happy.”
Staff members suspect Hass may be one of the state’s oldest living residents but have yet to confirm whether that’s true. In February, 111-year-old Tressa Bartholomew was verified by the Gerontology Research Group as Iowa’s oldest resident. She died later that month.
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In 2010, there were nearly 850 centenarians in Iowa, according to most recent available U.S. Census data.
Brian Kramer, director of sales and marketing at Cottage Grove Place, said it is unusual for a facility with a total of 250 residents to have so many centenarians. He said the party likely will become an annual event.
Also celebrating on Wednesday were Abby Zierath, 101, and Loraine Ogden, 104. Both said the grew up in Iowa and loved dancing to popular music.
Zierath, born in Victor, said she and her friends used to spend weekends and evenings at dance halls. They especially enjoyed outdoor dance halls on warm summer nights, she said.
Zierath and Ogden may have danced to music like Benny Goodman’s rendition of “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing),” which was recorded during their young adulthood in 1937, or listened to the likes of Bing Crosby, who released many hits, like “Out of Nowhere” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” that decade.
Ogden, a lifelong animal lover, was born and raised in Cedar Rapids. She said maintaining healthy habits — refraining from smoking, drinking and eating too much meat — is one of the best ways to live a long life.
She said she was in her early 40s when a local advertising agency dreamed up the concept that would later become Cedar Rapids’ current motto, “The City of Five Seasons.”
Other centenarians said they wanted to pass on the importance of good work ethic to future generations.
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The secret to a happy life is hard work, said Anna Pusateri, 104. Pusateri, who lived in Marion her entire life, is an avid Hawkeye fan and especially enjoys watching football and basketball.
Originally from Akron, Ohio, John Sellers, 101, worked as a newspaper carrier during the Great Depression. He earned his doctorate in chemistry and owned a business in Tampa, Fla.
“Work like hell,” he said. “You have to get some perspective so you’re aware of what’s going on around you ... and work hard if what you want is worthwhile.”
Also honored during Wednesday’s celebration were centenarians Tatiana Campbell, 102; Milton Westphalen, 102; Robert Ware, 100; Nadine Sandberg, 100; and Josephine Cook, 100.
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