DUPONT — One of the borough’s first citizens celebrated her birthday on Saturday, Jan. 2. Literally a first citizen.
Margaret Ziobro Milewski, who was born Jan. 1, 1916, and raised in Dupont, blew out the candles on her 100th birthday. The borough itself won’t celebrate its own centennial until next year.
But plenty of people, nearly 200 of them from her family, from the borough and from Sacred Heart of Jesus Church celebrated this birthday in style. There was a Mass in the church first, where the congregation sang “Happy Birthday,” then the party got started in the Dupont Volunteer Hose Company hall.
Dupont Mayor Don Lello presented a proclamation naming Jan. 2, 2016 “Margaret Milewski Day,” and council president Stanley Knick presented her with a bouquet of red roses.
It was a bigger party than usual, said grandson Eugene Milewski Jr. Normally the family has a get-together on New Year’s Eve to honor the birthday girl. But this one was special. His daughter, 3-year-old Sophia, the youngest of the great-grandchildren at the party, was disappointed because her parents wouldn’t let her bring a pinata to the festivities.
Five of her children did the hard work of setting up the party, and the petite Margaret Milewski, decked out in a tiara and rose corsage, took over from there.
“I’m so grateful for all of this,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have so many of these folks here. And I’m grateful to be able to still do as much as I can. Sure, I have a few aches and pains. But that’s life.”
That meant being able to live on her own, now in an apartment rather than taking care of a house, and crocheting.
“I love to crochet, do it every day,” she said.
And, she doesn’t live in the past. She did raise six children, daughters Dorothy (now Ziobro — same as Margaret’s maiden name, but no relation), Dolores (now Caltagiorone) and Diane (now Skrzysowski), and sons Leonard, Eugene and Richard. She also has 13 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. Most of them were at the party as well.
“A hundred years? Well, it went by. Sometimes it was hard, but we got through things,” she said. “I guess the worst thing was having to give up driving.”
She did that at age 90 at the insistence of her family.
“She really didn’t want to stop driving,” said granddaughter-in-law, Hilda Skrysowski, of West Wyoming. “It was a real fight to get her to give up the keys. She loved it. She taught all of the grandkids to drive.”
The family members talked about Margaret’s Chevette and how she didn’t appreciate drivers who didn’t pay attention on the road.
The party guests had plenty of other stories about the forever young Margaret. There were the tales of her Friday nights spend babysitting the grandkids to give their parents a night off. There were stories about her work with the church, especially making pierogies.
Family members talked about how Margaret would have one beer every night, then watch one of the late-night TV shows. She constantly got calls — and still gets them — for a crocheted baby blanket when someone is expecting a family addition. And they talk about how she rolls with whatever punches life hands out, not letting tough times affect her in a negative way, but rather choosing to work through whatever needs to be handled.
She worked for 20 years in the Main Pants factory in Dupont. She survived a major heart attack at age 53 and the death of her husband in the early 1960s. She also survived the death of her son, Richard, recently.
“That was particularly hard for her,” said the Rev. Joseph Verespy, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. “It’s never easy to lose a child. And she’s not as active in the church as she once was. But, I guess when you reach 100, you get to slow down a bit.”
Family and friends still count their blessings at having Margaret in their lives. They will tell you she was the one to count on, whatever was needed, she was there to help.
“She always tells us that age is only a number,” said daughter Diane Skrzysowski. “She proves that every day.”