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Betty Leary celebrates 97 years

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

Needham’s Center at the Heights celebrated an extra-special birthday on Tuesday, January 31. 

The first of February marked Needham resident Elizabeth “Betty” Leary’s 97th birthday. Leary, surrounded by friends and family at the CATH, enjoyed a celebration as spectacular as she is herself.

In the center of the action, Leary wore a smile on her face throughout the day. Highly involved at the CATH, Leary sings in the weekly Vintage Voices music group. Accompanists Margie Brodsky and Carlo Cocuzzo stopped by for a birthday singing session, the two playing piano and accordion along to favorites such as “Cheek to Cheek” and “You are my Sunshine”. Seniors surrounded Leary with melodies and began her 97th year on a high note. 

“Happy Birthday” sounded especially beautiful as all singers contributed in four-part harmonies. 

Guests pulled out all the stops for Leary’s big bash. Known as “Peanut Butter Betty” at the CATH, she was gifted a jar of Skippy from her friends prior to blowing out the candles on her cake. Leary’s daughter, Nancy, stopped by to enjoy the day with her. 

When asked about highlights of her lifetime, Leary responded, “Aside from this?” and gestured to her daughter. “Me, my daughter, and my granddaughter. I’m proud of both of them. My sister hung around until 98. My dad hung around until 91 in the 80s.” 

Anticipating the big question everyone may ask, Leary came right out with advice. She kept it simple, and her attitude was positive but blunt. “Everybody wants to know how!” she laughed. 

“One, good genes. Two, move! I’ve been walking every day for forty years. I hate to walk. I made myself do it. You don’t have to like it, but you have to do it.” Simple actions that encourage socialization, movement, and independence have kept Leary involved and healthy. With great social support from family and friends, her overall wellness is thriving. “Keep moving! Everybody I know in this building, every doctor says the same thing. Keep moving!”

Happy 97th birthday to Elizabeth “Betty” Leary!

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