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Reading Books Makes You

Everyone is a story 

Especially Centenarians

Too often we only know older people as they are today, failing to recognize that each person is a sum of the experiences which make up his or her life. United We Age offers a Life Stories Program where our volunteers interview older adults and write their stories. A life story is a formal acknowledgment that a senior’s life was meaningful in some way. Everyone is a story!

The world’s centenarian population is projected to grow rapidly, according to Pew, citing United Nations estimates. In 2015, there were nearly a half-million centenarians worldwide—more than four times as many as in 1990. U.N. projections suggest there will be about 3.7 million centenarians in 2050.

A story in the Tribune-Review by Joanne Harop back in 2021 shines a bright light on the lives of several centenarians living today in America. Let’s take a peek at two of them: Frank Pugliano Sr. and Ruth Shuster.

Read more of Frank Pugliano's Story

Frank Pugliano

Ruthie Shuster

100 years old 

Washington Township, PA

100 years old 

Irwing, PA

The most incredible thing we learn about 100-year-old Frank Pugliano is that he regularly lifts himself from his wheelchair onto a riding mower wearing a T-shirt that says: Father Mows Best. Yes, he mows his lawn and trims bushes himself. He is also known around his neighborhood as the ‘handyman’ because he can pretty much fix anything.

Pugliano is a World War II veteran and became a technical sergeant in the Army. Amazingly, he survived a torpedo attack by the Japanese on a mission to the Philippines.

Pugliano worked for the Union Railroad laying ties and rails and also served as a crane operator at Gascola Slag Co. After those jobs, he was a diesel mechanic for Mushroom Transportation on Neville Island.

This centenarian still enjoys playing the guitar, harmonica, and saxophone. He attributes his longevity to his good genes. Both of his parents lived well into their 90s. His love of chocolate and Coke has not slowed him down.

The best quote from his interview is: “when you are born, you are dealt cards. Why have I lived to be 100? I don’t know.”


Ruthie Shuster

Ruthie Shuster is a firecracker of a lady. Amazingly, she works three days a week at a local McDonald’s. According to people, she can be spotted cleaning tables and washing windows. She also loves to dance, especially doing the polka.

Ruthie was born in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Her parents immigrated to America from Italy. She met her husband at a square dance, and they were wed in Aprill 1945. Sadly, he passed in 1971. Ruthie has been widowed for over 53 years. She has two children, Jack and Janet, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Ruthie is a teetotaler, never drank liquor a day in her life. She also has never smoked cigarettes. Her one craving, like many people, is chocolate. She is an endearing lady who wears an angel pin every day.

Why has she lived this long? Her mother lived into her 90s. That is the only clue. Ruthie is a lady who has taken life by the horns. She believes that love is the most important thing. As the owner of the local McDonald’s states, Ruthie is always singing: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.” Ruthie Shuster is an inspiration to all of us.

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