There aren’t too many people who can say they have lived through two global pandemics, but Gussie Leven has! Gussie recently celebrated her 103rd birthday in style at Oakwood Residence, a Personal Care Community on Red Lion Road in the Northeast with a beautiful gala birthday celebration that brought together her family, including her son Ray, her friends, and beloved Oakwood staff. The momentous occasion was an opportunity for Gussie to reflect on her life, who admitted that she “feels like an old lady now” With so many years of experience, Gussie shared her secret to her longevity: “praying, living life and a glass of wine each day or two”
A Life Well Lived
Gussie’s parents and older sister came through Ellis Island from a shtetel in Russia before settling in South Philadelphia. The family soon grew to include four girls, and Gussie would make a point to talk to her three sisters every day. Gussie loved school, graduating high school at 15, but as a lifelong learner her educational journey didn’t end there. She took several classes later in her fifties. Gussie has always loved participating in programs at her local temple, acting (she had a stint in NYC), and still enjoys reading and writing.
Gussie was a hard worker, holding several jobs over the years, including the administrative assistant. She also taught steno script at Haverford Night school and worked in the District Attorney’s office. "I always worked hard because I wanted to be the girl with the nice clothes," she says.
Gussie and her husband lived in a condo at Bakers Bay for 45 years. While there, Gussie was in charge of the travel club and acted in the community theatrical productions. She and her husband loved to travel and remembers fondly when her son treated them to a two-week excursion in Europe for their 25th anniversary, where they made stops in London, Paris and Amsterdam.
Family has always been important to Gussie, who says that "taking care of my son Ray was one of the nicest things that ever happened to me." Unfortunately, Gussie's husband had many health issues towards the latter part of his life, and Gussie loyally and lovingly cared for him until he passed.
Happy Birthday, Gussie! Thank you for sharing your joyful spirit, sharp wit, extensive life experience and wonderful insights with us.