As the birthday song goes, “Are you one? Are you two? Are you…102?”
Former Maspeth resident Florence Galas celebrated her 102nd birthday Friday in Whitestone at The Grand at Queens, where she receives day-to-day care. Her friends and family were on hand to honor her long life and wish her well.
“She’s a beautiful woman. She’s been in my corner for years,” said her son, Michael Galas. “Everything I went through, she pulled me through.”
“She is a great mother, a great grandmother, and we’re happy that she’s still with us,” said her daughter, Penny VanMaldeghem.
The guest of honor herself was so overwhelmed with the attention that she kept repeating a single, simple phrase of gratitude.
“I’m so lucky,” she said. “I’m so lucky.”
Galas was born in Greece in 1913, and came to the U.S. a short while later in 1920 at 7 years old. After getting married in 1931, she spent most of her time caring for her family as a wife and mother, and had a total of four children.
Although her eyesight and hearing have been weakened due to her age, Galas still has a sharp mind which does not show signs of slowing down. She credits this to the fact that she had been a voracious reader for most of her life, reading as many as 12 books in a week.
Galas is fortunate enough to have a close companion who takes the time to read to her so she can still know the joy of a good book. Alan Capper, also a resident of The Grand, reads to her every day from a variety of novels and newspapers, and in that time he has gotten to know her own story very well.
“I find that she is extremely intelligent, very interesting to talk to about her life and the times that she’s lived through ” said Capper.
Galas was not only a reader in her earlier days, but also a painter.
She taught herself to paint in her ’70s by watching the television show of artist and painting instructor Bob Ross, and Galas was eventually so good that Ross asked her to come work for him as an art teacher after seeing a sample of her work. Ultimately, she refused, citing difficulties because of her advanced age.