Reaching the century mark in his life, Max Stern was honored last Friday afternoon at the Catholic Charities Howard Beach Senior Center by fellow seniors and his family and friends with a party that included music, dancing and, of course, cake.
Stern, a 45-year resident of Lindenwood, was born Nov. 20, 1913. He has been a member of the Howard Beach Senior Center for the past 10 years. He moved to the community from Brooklyn with his late wife, Reba, an artist, in 1968.
Stern said the secret to his longevity is getting the right amount of sleep, noting that he takes three naps a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening, and “by then it’s time to go to bed,” he said, as the audience laughed.
Stern, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, is one of six children; his only living sibling is his 92-year-old sister.
He has a daughter, Lea, two grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
An active member of the senior center, Stern enjoys its various activities, including dance, exercise and health management. He has participated in the center’s talent shows, telling jokes, singing and playing his ukulele.
Stern worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard before being drafted in 1942, serving in the 100th Infantry Division for 37 months during World War II.
On Jan. 9, 1945, while serving in Alsace-Lorraine, France, his platoon, though outnumbered, repelled a German attack on their position, capturing many German soldiers in the battle. Stern received citations for his bravery.
After he was discharged, Stern became an industrial arts teacher at Andrew Jackson High School in Cambria Heights, where he taught for 19 years.
The party for Stern was attended by about 100 seniors and local dignitaries including the Rev. Msgr. Alfred LoPinto, pastor of St. Helen Catholic Church; state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach); Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park); Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park); Stina Skewes-Cox, district director for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn/Queens), and representatives of the city Department of the Aging.
The local elected officials presented Stern with legislative certificates honoring his landmark birthday.
Good wishes for Stern were expressed by many.
“May he continue to enjoy good health and happiness for another 100 years,” Msgr. LoPinto said to the audience.
Addabbo commented that Stern had a wonderful sense of humor.
“I truly believe it is a sense of humor that keeps us smiling, and for that matter you are going to make us all live a long life,” said Addabbo, adding, “What you bring here to the senior center is truly life. You bring a breath of fresh air each and every day you are here.”
Ulrich said Stern is “a beloved and wonderful and important part of our community here in Howard Beach, and this senior center wouldn’t be the same without him.”
Goldfeder also expressed good wishes for a happy birthday for Stern and wished him many more years of health and success.