Arlington Heights woman celebrates 105th birthday
The world was a very different place 105 years ago. Women couldn't vote, the U.S. hadn't been tested by either world war, TVs hadn't been invented and Lois Mary Arbanas had just been born.
Arbanas, who celebrated her 105th birthday Dec. 1, has lived through the world changing many times over, but she said her longevity doesn't seem that profound to her.
"The years came on so gradually," said Arbanas, who, despite being the oldest resident of The Moorings of Arlington Heights, still lives independently.
Born in Michigan, Arbanas was one of eight siblings. She and her husband Joseph, who worked as an attorney and later for the government, lived in Washington D.C., Chicago and California.
Over the years Arbanas has given back to every community she's lived in, including as a Girl Scout leader and hospital volunteer. She's also helped to record books on tape for the blind, drive disabled children, fix meals for lonely seniors and more.
When Joe's health was failing the couple moved to The Moorings to be closer to family in the Northwest suburbs. She stayed after her husband passed away in 1992, keeping busy by teaching a flower arranging class, gardening, leading bridge games, knitting blankets for hospice patients and spending time with her granddaughters.
Looking back, she calls the Great Depression the "other depression" referring to the economic downtown of recent years. She remembers it as a tough time for her and her husband, who married in 1934. They furnished their first apartment by buying used furniture and goods people could no longer afford.
"It was pretty bad. I remember men on the street selling apples," she said. "It was really pitiful."
But Arbanas doesn't enjoy looking that far back.
As for where she was during other key moments, such as the sinking of Titanic, the outbreak of World War I, when women got the right to vote or the crash of 1929, Lois exclaims "You expect me to remember back 100 years?!"
That sense of humor has kept Arbanas young, said her daughter, Anne Feichter of Elk Grove Village.
"She keeps everyone on their toes," Feichter, 70, said.
Aside from good humor and spending time with her family — another daughter, Marybeth, lives in Gurnee — Arbanas said the key to her continued good health has been moderation.
"I've exercised all my life," she said, pointing out the one-pound weights she keeps handy just for that purpose. Arbanas always has a piece of candy after lunch, but just one.
Village President Arlene Mulder recognized Arbanas on her 100th birthday with a plaque, and added to that collection with another framed certificate of recognition this year. "It's hard for me to think of this being anything special," said Arbanas, who marked her latest birthday with lunch in the suburbs with her family.
As to whether she'll be the subject of honor at another ceremony five years from now, Arbanas doesn't try to predict the future.
"Every year on her birthday she says it will be her last year," Feichter said, adding that no one else in the family lived beyond 94.
But Feichter and her sister hope there will be a few more birthdays to celebrate, and are enjoying the added years they've had their mother in their lives.
"It's been wonderful for my sister and I," Feichter said. "She's become a friend, not just our mom."
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