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Living the good life: 100 just a number for Cape Coral centenarians

By Staff | Oct 12, 2017

An artist, an entertainer who also worked at the White House, a teacher, a musician and a woman who carved a career when, well, not many did.

Their backgrounds vary, the lives they have lived differ, but the rarified group of women at Gulf Coast Village have something in common – all have met – or surpassed the 100th birthday milestone.

Rosa Sapecky, Peg Levy and Ruth Cable are all 100. Alma Lee is 102 and Mary Whitmore is 103.

Sapecky taught at the Buffalo, NY public school system for six years teaching high school English and History. Sapecky, though, was mostly known as an excellent artist, specifically watercolor painting.

Throughout her life as an artist, Sapecky has received numerous awards for her watercolor works, and many of her paintings are hung in businesses and private collections across the United States and Canada.

Since moving to Southwest Florida in 1978, Sapecky became involved with the Cape Coral Art League, serving in multiple positions between 1990-2005, along with working with other organizations such as Cape Coral Council for the Arts & Humanities, Florida Watercolor Society, Charlotte County Art Guild, and National League of American Pen Women.

Sapecky was not able to comment on her story for health reasons.

Levy was an entertainer for the troops during World War II. She also worked in the White House and worked with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to recruit women into the women’s Army Corps.

Levy discussed what it was like to work with the president.

“President Roosevelt himself was a very jolly person, and very quickly he can turn the mood off,” Levy said. “Then I would say, ‘Wait a minute, you can’t tell me to wait a minute’ then Roosevelt would say ‘Well I just did.’ Things like that happened every day and it was fun.”

Levy’s favorite memory of working in the White House was thanking Eleanor Roosevelt.

Cable was a special education teacher for most of her life, and lived in Chicago and western Pennsylvania.

She now keeps herself busy at Gulf Coast Village by exercising every day and volunteering at the village.

“I have five different exercises that I do, including Zumba on Saturdays and that’s great,” Cable said. “I also volunteer and help the pastors get the bulletins ready for Sundays and then, if anyone needs help, I’m here to help. It’s a great place and everyone is friendly.”

Cable also traveled a lot throughout her life and she continues to stay in touch with people she met along the way as well as former special education students that she taught.

Lee has love and passion for music. She studied music throughout her years in school, including college. Lee also taught music for 30 years at public schools as a music consultant.

She described how she got into music and why she enjoys playing music very much.

“I started learning music when I was very little. I did a lot of learning because I played and learned the music by ear and it had to be perfect. I’m well trained and I feel very good about it because I do a very good job at it,” Lee said.

Lee mostly played the organ piano, and she would play for different churches such as Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, among others. She didn’t care at what church she played, so long as she was able to play where she needed to play.

While a resident at Gulf Coast Village, Lee was involved in starting the village chapel in 2009, where to this day, she still plays the organ piano every Sunday at church.

Despite not remembering somethings, Lee still remembers every note and song on the organ as if she’s never lost a beat.

Whitmore is the eldest woman in the group. Born in Pittsburgh, Penn. where she lived for most of her life, Whitmore was a secretary for both Kaufmann’s, a flagship department store in Pittsburgh, and Pennzoil.

Between those two jobs, Whitmore enjoyed working at Pennzoil the most because of the people who worked there.

Growing up, she remembers when she and her family lived through the Great Depression.

“Our family did pretty good I thought. We were very careful of what things to keep and what to throw away,” Whitmore said. “We only bought things that we needed and were more important.”

Also while growing up, Whitmore attended a good number of Broadway shows in New York City as well.

As for the famed “secret of life,” one would expect to answer “it’s chocolate” or “it’s eating healthy,” but for these centenarian women, each of their answers were truthful and heartwarming.

Levy’s secret to life is meeting good people and keeping yourself happy; Cable’s secret is to love people and exercise all the time; Lee’s secret is to continue to share her love for her music and Whitmore’s secret is to live a good life and meet wonderful people.

And one other thing they have in common?

All agreed that they’ve lived a good life so far.