Bernie Rothenberg at his birthday party (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Life-long Stuyvesant Town resident Bernie Rothenberg’s advice for living to be 100 is not to stress the little things.
“Take everything one day at a time,” he said. “Laugh when you can. All you have to worry about is your health, your family, eating properly. Don’t get aggravated at the unimportant things. And keep the weight off.”
Keeping the weight off is easier for the newly-minted centenarian since he can usually be found knocking golf balls around Playground 3 whenever it’s not snowing. He’s become locally famous for his almost-daily habit, which he’s been practicing in the neighborhood since the turn of the millennium.
Aside from keeping a level head, Rothenberg also partially attributed his longevity to pure luck. A combat engineer who served in the Philippines and Okinawa during World War II, he was a lawyer when he was drafted and he joined the family stationery business when he returned to civilian life.
“They were bombing where I was and a shell landed by us and the guy right next to me was killed but I wasn’t touched,” he said. “Number 158 was the first draft number picked, and mine was the second. I could’ve ended up in the European theater and gotten killed. Sometimes you gotta be lucky.”
William Johnston celebrates his 101st birthday. (Photo courtesy of VA)
By Sabina Mollot
Original Stuy Town resident and World War II veteran William Johnston, or John-John, as he is affectionately called, celebrated his 101st birthday on Wednesday, December 2 with family and friends at the VA St. Albans Community Living Center.
Johnston, who had moved into an apartment on East 14th Street with his wife Helen in 1947, remained there for 60 years. In 2007, his family moved him into St. Albans where he still lives.
His birthday party was attended by friends and neighbors, VA staff and his brother, a nephew and his wife and nieces.
Johnston, who was born in Scotland, and Helen, who died five years ago on Thanksgiving Day, lived in Stuy Town after Johnston was honorably discharged from the Army. He’d served from 1943-1946 at the Ft. Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn, working as a payroll clerk. He later worked for many years at Manufacturers Hanover Trust, now known as The Bank of New York. Johnston went on to become a volunteer at VA’s Manhattan campus and even received a “Volunteer of the Year Award” during that time. At his birthday party, it was mentioned by his nephew, Bill Dolan, that there wasn’t anything he would not do for his fellow comrades.