By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – It’s not every day that one gets to celebrate their 100th birthday. Rona Long of Shrewsbury and her brother Lenny Gutkin of Somerset, N.J., made sure that their mother’s celebration was special. Family and friends gathered Aug. 4 for a celebratory brunch in honor of Ruthie Gutkin’s special day.
Gutkin was born in New York City on Aug. 2, 1919 to Pearl and Louis Lapidus and grew up in New Jersey. She moved to Shrewsbury in 2010 and lives with Long and caregiver Jestina Olivant.
“She grew up during the depression and her parents were poor, and they struggled to keep a roof over their heads,” Long stated. “She married my father, Nathan Gutkin in 1941 and they were married for 65 years.”
Nathan was an educator and Ruthie built a successful career in sales. He passed away in 2006.
Lenny said that his mother was the oldest of three and that her two younger brothers, Irving and George, preceded her in passing.
Gutkin’s faith, Judaism, has always been and is still very important to her. While she lived in New Jersey she raised funds for her local synagogue as well as the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
She also advocated for what is now known as the Deborah Heart and Lung Center in New Jersey where she raised funds for those afflicted with tuberculosis.
Most recently, along with her caregiver, Gutkin has helped form the “Ruthie Gutkin Foundation” in Sierra Leone which provides funds for the Community Aid Network – Sierra Leone. It was formally launched on her birthday. Her foundation will support adolescent and sexually abused girls and vulnerable women and help them to become self-reliant.
On her special day, Ruthie was resplendent with beautifully coiffed hair and just a touch of makeup. She had had a fresh manicure and was fashionably dressed with a sparkly dress and tan pumps. She held court in an antique chair that resembled a throne.
In addition to her children, Rona and Lenny, Gutkin also has a granddaughter, Alyse Vitoratos and great-grandson Nikko Vitoratos.
Lenny noted that his mother is very strong and healthy for her age. As such, they look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with her.