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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Woman from Schenectady, born on February 29, marks a century of existence

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SCHENECTADY — A grand celebration is in order as Ada Jean Ponson Pitcher marks her 100th year of existence this Thursday. Interestingly, it’s only her 25th birthday in a technical sense, given that she was born on a leap day a century ago.

“The idea of celebrating a century was quite unbelievable when I first heard it,” Pitcher confessed.

The leap day baby, born on February 29, 1924, occasionally yearns for a regular birthday that comes annually. She humorously noted that her birthday seems to be celebrated whenever it’s convenient for everyone else.

According to The Associated Press, approximately five million people globally share the unique experience of being born on a leap day. Pitcher plans to commemorate her extraordinary day with a party, surrounded by her loved ones this Thursday.

Her life’s journey is a rich tapestry of resilience, love, and dedication.

Pitcher’s father, Abel Ponson, was a World War I veteran who participated in four major events. He later suffered health issues due to exposure to mustard gas during the war. Upon his return, he and his wife, Cordelia, embarked on a cross-country journey in a Ford Model A, relocating their family from Colorado to Guilderland.

Ada completed her high school education in 1941 in Altamont, which is now part of the Guilderland Central School District. She was among the first three girls to be bussed to Altamont High School.

At the age of 20, she tied the knot and soon found herself working at General Electric when her husband was drafted for World War II.

When their first child was born, Ada managed to relay the news to her husband, who was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, through the Red Cross. Upon his return to New York, they raised their children in the Pine Bush area.

After her husband’s death, Ada resumed her work at GE, serving as an executive secretary in the Turbine Relations Operation until she retired to care for her mother. She and her mother then moved to Schenectady to live with her daughter, Joan Lawrence.

When asked about the secret to her longevity, Ada confessed, “I wish I could tell you, but I honestly don’t know.”

However, longevity might run in her family. Her mother lived to be 102, and her sister, Marie Conroy, lived until 106.

Ada spent 20 years living with her daughter, contributing to her medical transcription business and helping raise her grandchildren. After her mother’s passing, Ada moved to a senior living apartment in Schenectady, where she lived for another 20 years. She also assisted her daughters at Emmy Lou’s Cafe in Amsterdam as a sous chef, handling prep work and taking orders, until she nearly succumbed to COVID.

At the age of 98, Ada was diagnosed with COVID and spent about a month in the hospital before being transferred to The Schenectady Center on Altamont Avenue, where she has resided since. Remarkably, Ada has survived breast cancer twice — once in her 50s and again in her 90s.

Besides her five children and 11 grandchildren, Ada Pitcher is blessed with numerous great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. At 100 years old, she believes that the greatest gift is her family.

“What more could one possibly wish for?” she mused.

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Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton, a skillful journalist previously based in Boston, is adept at covering a diverse array of stories. Her thorough and engaging reporting style, honed with a Master's in Journalism from Boston University, focuses on community-relevant stories.
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