By Kristin Schultz
NISKAYUNA — In 1917 the United States entered World War I, Russian Tsar Nicholas II abdicated his throne, sneakers were invented and Ruth Hahn was born.
On April 15, Hahn celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends at Brookdale Assisted Living in Niskayuna. She was the first resident this year to reach 100 years old, though you may not know it from looking at her.
Her wavy, silver hair is elegantly coiffed and she still takes care to coordinate her outfits.
Hahn is not content to sit in her apartment which, she is quick to point out, is all the way at the end of the building so she gets lots of exercise just going to the on-site salon, dining hall or game room. She likes it that way.
“Ruth loves to exercise and she loves her poker,” said Yasmiry Lalindez, Brookdale’s resident program coordinator. “She is always encouraging others to get involved.”
Hahn was raised in Queens and was the youngest of five girls. Her father owned a store, but Hahn’s best memories are of the “country house” her family owned in Palenville, Greene County, and where they would spend summers and Christmas. “We were always outside,” said Hahn. “There was a place where the water ran down the hill and created a pool. We went swimming there all the time.”
Whether as a small girl swimming in a pool or as a resident at Brookdale, Hahn likes to keep busy. She fills her days with activities like group exercise, happy hours, poker or bingo games, and wine-and-cheese events.
“Exercise is good for me, so I do it,” she said. “You just have to keep moving.”
Hahn has always been a mover. In high school, she played basketball and was on the swimming team. After she graduated, Hahn attended Adelphi College and later got her master’s in special education. She taught in Queens for 25 years.
“The kids and parents adored her,” said Hahn’s daughter-in-law Madeline Hahn. “Some of her students got to the point where they could [despite their developmental challenges] get on a train and get jobs.”
After she and her husband retired, the couple moved to Clifton Park, where Ruth actively volunteered at the senior center.
Her determination to “keep moving” and keep others moving has not abated.
“She wants others to be active,” said Lalindez. “It bothers her when people just sit in her room so she tells [other residents], ‘Let’s go. There’s wine and cheese downstairs.’ ”
She has been at Brookdale for about 12 years. Madeline and John (Ruth’s son) live in Clifton Park and visit regularly. Ruth also has friends among staff and residents at Brookdale. On March 14 night, the staff threw her a party featuring Ody, her favorite entertainer.