Centenarian, long life, assisted living

103 and Still Playing Poker: Meet Shirley Meyers

August 23

Judy Friedlaender says the quality she admires in her 103 year-old mother is her ability to stay positive. “For as long as I can remember, she has been able to see the good in people, the silver lining in a situation, the sunny side of things,” she says about her mother, Shirley Meyers, a resident of Willow Towers Assisted Living.

“That’s what she taught me… to be upbeat, which she is. People are drawn to her. She finds the fun in life,” says Judy.

Shirley says she never saw any reason to be anything but upbeat. Born in the Bronx in 1914, she grew up in New Rochelle with her two sisters, Muriel and Naomi. “The three of us were known as the ‘Keppler Girls,’ and we enjoyed ourselves,” Shirley says. Following her graduation in 1933 from New Rochelle High School, she briefly attended art school, and then eloped with Howard Meyers of White Plains. They enjoyed happy and productive years running a wholesale men’s gift business, H.C. Meyers Company, and raising Judy and her two brothers in New Rochelle.

After her husband’s death in 1986, Shirley moved to Boca Raton, FL, where she was an avid golfer, bridge enthusiast, and world traveler. She fulfilled her dreams of visiting far-flung destinations across the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. She continued to find the fun in life, developing new friendships and living on her own. Then, 18 years ago, at age 86, her health deteriorated. Upon the advice of her doctor, she started taking several medications, including pills to combat anxiety and depression. She was also prescribed supplemental oxygen, which was administered via a portable tank she carried with her. She became frail, and moved back to New Rochelle to be near her family.

Shirley was unrecognizable, even to herself. With the support of her daughter, she saw a new doctor, who gradually reduced her medications. Shirley soon reconnected to her favorite activities, including painting, playing cards, and watching her beloved New York Giants. With her family’s positive energy to support her, Shirley grew stronger.

Now, at 103, Shirley is finding the fun in life again. She enjoys the full complement of activities at Willow Towers, including weekly poker and bridge games with friends, and painting. (Her artwork was recently selected by the New York State Center for Assisted Living 2019 calendar!). She relishes time with her extended family, including four generations of New Rochelle High School graduates, and has been feted at Willow Towers’ annual “Centenarian Luncheon” each year since passing the century mark. She’s active in the lives of her three children, seven grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren, who are a tremendous source of pride and joy.

When you ask her the secret to living past age 100, she’s quick to answer. “Stay active, stay positive.”