Centenarian keeps her secret

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Since she turned 100 July 23, Fresh Meadows resident Lena Koblentz has been asked time and again what her secret is: How has she lived so vibrantly for so long?

To that, Koblentz only smiles.

“Does Victoria reveal her secret?” Koblentz joked. “I’m not going to reveal mine.”

Koblentz, a lifelong city resident who taught in the public school system, was honored Tuesday by state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens).

“When I first met her about a month ago, I thought she was telling me her mother was 100 and I said, ‘Oh, we should celebrate that,’” David Weprin said. “When I realized it was she who was 100, I was shocked. She does not look 100.”

Stavisky said she hopes to be like Koblentz when she is 100.

“When I met you, I didn’t believe you were 100,” Stavisky said. “I thought you must be getting your numbers wrong. I thought you were in your 70s.”

Mark Weprin said he looked forward to celebrating future birthdays with Koblentz.

“We’ll be back here in 20 years for your 120th,” Mark Weprin told Koblentz, who moved to Fresh Meadows with her husband in 1946.

The Weprins first met Koblentz because their mother, Sylvia Weprin, lives next door to the centenarian at her Fresh Meadows home in the building which houses the Self Help Fresh Meadows Senior Program. Koblentz is a member of the program, which provides social activities, case management, health care management, group transportation and volunteer opportunities for its members.

David Weprin and Stavisky gave her framed proclamations from the Assembly and Senate and Mark Weprin gave her a plaque from the Council.

“Lena Koblentz has enriched the lives of those around her through her joyous and sincere love for others and through the charm and wisdom which comes only from a fullness of years,” the Senate proclamation read. “It is appropriate that we recognize those who have reached such a remarkable age and who have witnessed and celebrated the innovations, cultural development and extraordinary achievements of this country during the last century.”

Koblentz was born July 23, 1910, in lower Manhattan to Russian immigrants who strived to make a better life for their children in a new country. Her father lived on a cot in a New York City kitchen while saving money to bring his wife over from Warsaw.

The youngest of six children, Koblentz knew at the age of 5 that she wanted to be a teacher, and she taught in a school on the border of Queens and Nassau County. A committed family woman, Koblentz raised a daughter, Sara Koblentz, and a son, Aaron Koblentz, in addition to being a teacher, a painter and a children’s book author and illustrator.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 6:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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