By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – For the eighth year, a special viewing area was stationed in front of the Town Hall for the Spirit of Shrewsbury (SOS) Fall Festival Parade. Seated under a tent were residents over age 90 and their guests Sept. 28. Following the parade, they were invited to attend an Over 90 Tribute Tea at the Shrewsbury Senior Center.
This special occasion was the idea of Maria Smith, a SOS Committee member who has organized the tribute each year since its inception.
“These people are so vibrant and the cornerstone of our whole community,” she said. “They love the VIP seating for the parade. Then for the tea, we always have some sort of appropriate entertainment.”
After refreshments were served, this year’s entertainment was provided by the Silver Moon Gypsies, a belly dance troupe ranging in age from 60 to 81. They returned by popular demand following their 2012 appearance.
Each year, the tribute attracts about 30 to 40 guests over 90. The eldest man and woman is recognized, as well as the longest married couple.
This year, the most mature male was Louis Kern, 95. There was a three-way tie for female in her primetime: Rose D’Amico, Ruth Foley and Mary Layden, each 94.
The distinction of longest married couple went to Gladys and Cush Bozenhard, 91 and 90 respectively. They exchanged wedding vows 69 years ago. The parents of two sons, they have three grandchildren and a nine-month great-grandchild.
Gladys is a lifelong Shrewsbury resident and a 1941 graduate of what was known as Major Beal High School. Cush is originally from New York and studied at Worcester Technical High School, formerly known as Worcester Boys’ Trade High School.
While in their 20s, the couple literally built their own home in which they still live.
“My husband learned how to do carpentry when he was in high school,” Gladys explained.
This was their first visit to the senior center, but not their last.
“We’re coming back next week to sign up and become members of the senior center,” Gladys noted.
Smith has repeatedly asked the guests their secret to a long, healthy life.
“Some of them have told me that it’s got to be the Shrewsbury water,” she relayed. “It’s artesian well water in Shrewsbury, so that has to be our Fountain of Youth.”