At 100, she's 'passionate about the future' - LancasterOnline: News

At 100, she's 'passionate about the future'

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Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2009 10:03 am | Updated: 2:24 pm, Wed Sep 11, 2013.

Ruth Law loves to tell stories.

Funny stories.

To be in her company is a laugh a minute.

Perhaps her great sense of humor is the secret to her longevity.

Law, a resident of the Willow Valley Retirement Community, celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday.

How does it feel to be 100?

"It feels like 99," she said. "I never expected it. I hope I don't live another 100 years."

What did she do to live so long?

"I didn't do anything. It just did it by itself."

Law, a Laings, Ohio, native, wasn't keen on a big fuss on Tuesday. Her friend of 43 years and fellow Willow Valley resident Jane Ladany spread the word and feted Law last week at a party with a cake, a corsage and 67 friends.

"She's just as sharp today as she was in 1966," Ladany said.

The charming centenarian, with a trim figure, looked amazingly fit Tuesday, dressed smartly in matching pale yellow blouse and slacks for a low-key gathering in her apartment with family members and drop-in guests

"I am pretty lucky," she admitted. "At 100, I can hear and walk and do my housework."

Law's family includes three married daughters, Linda Krantz, of Lexington, Va.; Sara Schlenker, of Chicago; and Kathy Orloski, of Allentown; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

Krantz said Law has stayed physically fit by being active.

"She worked in the garden with my father," Krantz said. "She canned and cooked."

Even at 100, she always walks upstairs for the exercise but takes the elevator down to protect her knees.

Krantz also attributed her mother's longevity to her willingness "to stay open to the world."

"She's passionate about the future," she said.

Law stays mentally sharp by solving the New York Times crossword puzzle every day and playing duplicate bridge three times a week.

She's also an avid reader. Her latest favorite book is "The Life of Einstein," by Walter Isaacson.

Her daughters say they could never forget their mother's stories.

"She used to tell me stories all night long when I was sick," said Orloski. "I secretly didn't mind being sick."

"After awhile, I started making up stories," Law said.

They weren't just any stories, but cautionary tales, devised to scare the girls away from alcohol and the drugs that were so much in the news in the "hippie" era of their youth.

Schlenker gave an example: Once upon a time a little girl was walking to school alone, and a man hiding behind a building said, "Psst, little girl, do you want a 'druggard' cigarette? "

Law, the oldest and last surviving of three children of Oscar and Odessa Lapp Workman, grew up in rural Ohio, near Wheeling, W.Va., on a farm without running water or electricity.

She graduated in 1931 from Ohio University, where she majored in both math and English, and then taught high school English in Ohio.

In 1941, she married Harold Law and moved to Princeton, N.J., where he worked for the former RCA and invented the most important principles of the color picture tube.

In Princeton, Mrs. Law taught junior high math, retiring at age 62. All three of her daughters were her students in the classroom, which they said they unnecessarily anticipated with dread.

"Everybody loved her," said Krantz. "She had a very interactive class. The adrenaline was high. She treated her students with the utmost respect and they respected her."

In 1974, the Laws moved to a farm in Hopewell, N.J, because Mr. Law had a passion for farming.

In 1986, two years after he died, Mrs. Law moved to Willow Valley Lakes, where she was the first resident, arriving a month before the official move-in date.

When her temporary living arrangements fell through, she called the Lakes and said, "Either you let me move in now, or I'm a bag lady."

They let her in.

Law chose to move to Lancaster County because her husband fell in love with the farming town on his frequent trips to the former RCA plant on New Holland Avenue.

"I didn't want to get married," Law said. "But everyone liked him.

"I couldn't have had a kinder, nicer person than my husband," she said. "And I have three wonderful daughters."

Law, on the other hand, readily admits that she has some foibles, such as being stubborn.

"And she's always right," said Orloski. "But we don't mind, because she IS always right.

"She's the best mother anyone could ask for. She has more wisdom than I can imagine."

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