The community room at Easter Seals Day Break was decorated wall-to-wall with “Happy Birthday” messages for Ruth Leiber’s birthday on March 24.
But this wasn’t just another birthday — it was Leiber’s 109th.
“We usually have a monthly celebration of birthdays, but this is a milestone, so it’s a larger celebration,” said Suzanne Caporina, vice president of programs at Day Break, an adult day center in Winter Park.
More than 50 members, friends, family and staff came to celebrate the occasion. Scott Petty, Leiber’s great-great-nephew, told the crowd anecdotes of Leiber’s traveling adventures and years as a beautician.
Born in 1902, in Lewisburg, Ohio, Leiber has lived through a lot.
“My favorite years? They were all favorites,” Leiber said.
Her sharp personality kept the room’s attention as she recited the United States presidents in order from George Washington to James Buchanan without hesitation.
One of Leiber’s presents was an album of historical events that occurred throughout her life. Staff helped the Day Break members research all the decades from the 1900s to the 2000s to compile the album.
Don M., fellow Day Break member, presented a personal gift: “I promised if you made it to 109, I would take you for lunch,” Don said as he presented her with a card containing $16. They shared a kiss and the room cheered.
At 109, Leiber’s still young at heart and active. “The only disadvantage she may have is she has lost some of her hearing, and that’s really about it. Other than that she’s really spunky,” Caporina said.
She drove and did crossword puzzles until she was about 100 years old, she said.
“As a kid, I remember, she’d get up at six o’clock every morning, I’d come into the kitchen and she’d be doing crosswords. That’s how I think she’s done it,” Petty said.
Leiber’s been visiting Day Break three days a week for almost three years now and loves it.
“What brought her here is to keep her busy, keep her sharp and keep her involved in activities,” Petty said. But Leiber said she enjoys coming to the center because she likes the people and likes the place.
Not many can say they’ve achieved what Leiber has. So what’s her secret to longevity?
With a lingering smile, Leiber said, “Keep a smile on your face and love in your heart.”
Easter Seals Day Break at the Miller Center
An Adult Day Care
2010 Mizell Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32792