Ester Sarafian knows how to bring a crowd to their feet. She makes a grand entrance on her 100th birthday.
Without assistance, Ester headed into the dining room at the Scandinavian Assisted Living Community on Warwick Avenue in Cranston Friday shortly after noon. Friends and family were assembled, along with a large contingent of the staff. The moment they spotted Ester they stood and applauded.
Ester took all the excitement in stride. She acknowledged the attention, shaking hands, smiling and, as it turned out, answering the questions of a reporter. But the interview didn’t come until she was seated at the head of the table with a full glass of chardonnay in front of her.
”She’s rocking it,” said staff member Andrea Shea, “she doesn’t look to be a day over 70.”
Indeed, Ester is youthful. As a girl she played basketball, baseball and ran track. And it wasn’t until she was 90 and gave up her driver’s license that she stopped playing golf. She says she didn’t mind giving up her car as much as she did losing the golf.
But more than her physical health, Ester is young in spirit. She doesn’t take herself seriously, a quality that is endearing.
Before moving to the Scandinavian Home almost nine year ago, Ester lived with her husband, Dr. John Sarafian, in Apponaug on West Shore Road for nearly 40 years. He was older and died at the age of 102 about 10 years go.
One of 12 children, Ester Panciera grew up in Westerly. She married James Sprengelmeyer and they parented two daughters and a son. James died at the age of 39 leaving Ester to raise the children. She worked as a secretary for several manufacturing companies and contractors.
Ester is the sole survivor of her siblings and has outlived her son, Joseph. Her daughters, Emily and Sandi were in attendance Friday, as well the representatives of the next generation. As a nurse at Scandinavian Home, Sandi gets to see a lot of her mother. That’s not true of Emily, who lives in California.
Emily attributes her mother’s longevity to her strong faith, staying active and always caring for others.
”She still does the Christmas shopping for her great grandchildren,” said Emily. What’s more, Ester joins in the fun with the kids, getting down on the floor to play with them.
Ester listens, adding, “Maybe somebody helps me up again.”
Ester keeps up with what’s going on and she would like to be on this good Earth for as long as the Lord permits.
“I wouldn’t mind being around for another two to three years,” she said. “I’m not done yet.”
Ester wore a black dress and lace shawl for her centurion celebration. Her hair was neatly coiffed.
Did she have any secrets to leaving a long life?
“Take everything in moderation and you’ll live as old as I am,” she said.
After a brief pause to reflect she added, “and have a little glass of wine.”