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Everyone is a Story

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 life story. A life story is a formal acknowledgement that a senior’s life was meaningful in some way. Everyone is a story!

Lucy Sanders

96, Stratford Court, Boca Raton

Lucy was born Lucy Armani on June 1, 1928, in New York City. The daughter of Jewish parents, Eleanor and David Armani, who immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s from Greece. Lucy was a first generation American. Her mother died of cancer (Hodgkin’s) when Lucy was five years old. Her father re-married Marie Nathan when she was eight years old. Her stepmother was a homemaker, and her father owned the International Gift Shop in Manhattan. Lucy has a younger sister, Terry (90) and a half-brother, Fred (died at 66 from pancreatic cancer). Lucy and her two siblings were brought up in the Bronx as children.

At 16, Lucy was diagnosed with Polio and was hospitalized for three weeks. After she recovered, Lucy attended Taft High School in the Bronx. Her fondest memories were cutting school at noon and attending NY Yankee games with her best friend. They knew the Yankees pitching coach who would let them in the stadium for free. They met Yankee greats, Joe DiMaggio and Charlie Keller. Two of her high school mates went on to become famous in the entertainment industry—American singer, Eydie Gorme and Stanley Kubrik, Director: A Clockwork Orange.

As a young Jewish woman back in the 1940s, Lucy faced cultural and racial discrimination.

Towards the end of high school, she spent a summer studying at the University of Wisconsin.

Although she wanted to continue her college education, her father said, “the day you leave this house, is the day you get married.” Few women earned a college education in the 1940s. Lucy also had an encounter with antisemitism. Her first job was working for Borden Dairy but after one week, they discovered she was Jewish and let her go.

At age 19, Lucy postponed her college dreams and married 26-year-old Jack Sanders. They had met at the wedding of Jack’s cousin, Danny Hasson, whose dad was friends with Lucy’s dad. Jack and Lucy danced all night and eight months later married on November 22, at the swanky Plaza Hotel. Jack was a Captain in the Air Force in World War II and graduated from CCNY and Columbia University. They lived together in the Bronx but soon moved to an apartment in Queens after their first child, Michael, was born. Pregnant with a second child, they moved to a two-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights. During this time, Jack worked at the International Gift Shop for his father-in-law, and eventually took over half the business when Lucy’s dad retired and moved to Florida. Lucy’s sister, Terry’s husband, took over the other half of the business.

Lucy and Jack and their three children moved to Long Beach, New York in 1959. There, Lucy

took a Civil Service exam and placed first and became the Tax Collector for the city. Lucy and Jack brought up their three children in Long Beach. They had an active social life through their membership with a young social club at the Sephardic Temple in Long Beach. The family would spend vacations in Miami Beach from time to time.

The International Gift Shop closed its doors in 1970, and Jack changed jobs to another family-owned business, Ardalt. When Ardalt moved its headquarters to Hollywood, Florida, Lucy and Jack moved as well. Lucy took a Civil Service test and managed the payroll for the City of Miramar.

Lucy was determined to go back to college to earn her degree. With the City of Mirimar paying for her education, Lucy went to night school and graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Accounting and Human Resources at age 61! Lucy was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 63. She fully recovered.

During her adult life, Lucy loved to travel. She, along with her best friend from high school, took their granddaughters to London when the girls were twelve, and to Paris when they were sixteen. Lucy and Jack also traveled to China, visited the Great Wall of China, and took a wonderful Alaskan cruise.

Lucy and Jack moved to Boca Pointe, Boca Raton in their early retirement years. They enjoyed the amenities of a country club type life there. They then moved to Delray Beach to settle into a quieter life. And then moved to an independent senior living facility back in Boca Raton, Stratford Court of Boca Point. In 2017, Lucy’s husband of seventy years passed away.

Lucy is now 96-years young, living in Stratford Court and is the matriarch of an extended family comprised of three children, Michael, David, and Marsha; seven grandchildren, Evan, Brett, Abbey, Jeff, Jenna, Jordan, and Ben; and six greatgrandchildren, Brandon, Julia, Ruby, Tessa, Sligh, and Lowen.

Lucy Sander’s greatest regret is not graduating from college earlier in her life. If she could have a do-over, she would have been a trailblazer for women back in the 1940s and 50s, graduating college, and then earning a master’s and PhD degree. She feels strongly that education is the key to a well-rounded and fascinating life.

How has she coped with the physical and mental decline associated with aging? To her, quality of life decline comes with aging, and you need to accept it. “I looked forward to using a walker because it permitted me to get around better.”

What is the reason she has lived this long? “I’m amazed that I’ve lived this long. I don’t have

any answers for why I’m still here. I survived Polio and breast cancer. I guess I’m luckier than

most people.”

David Lereah

President, United We Age

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