Lo­cal res­i­dent hits cen­tury mark

North Penn Life - - Front Page - Fe­bru­ary 15, 2013 By Michael Alan Gold­berg mgold­berg@jour­nalregis­ter.com Page D1

As Ruta Colomb emp­tied the con­tents of a few pack­ets of sugar into the mug sit­ting in front of her mother, Valen­tine Treibergs, Sun­day morn­ing, she looked up and smiled.

“This is the se­cret to long life right here — lots of cof­fee and sugar,” Colomb, 60, said with a laugh.

Treibergs turned 100 Sun­day at Manor­Care Health Ser­vices in Mont­gomeryville, where she’s resided for the past two years, sur­rounded by fam­ily, friends and res­i­dents of the nurs­ing care fa­cil­ity who packed the din­ing room, which was filled with bal­loons, to cel­e­brate the mile­stone by singing “Happy Birth­day” and pre­sent­ing Treibergs ( whose first name is pro­nounced “salentina”) with a cake.

Among the many guests was Treibergs’ 11- month- old great­grand­son, Micah, whom she was meet­ing for the very first time; her grand­son, Matthias, along with his wife and their two chil­dren, Micah and 3- year- old Noah, flew up from their home in Mo­bile, Ala., for the fes­tiv­i­ties.

“So many sur­prises, so many rel­a­tives coming,” Treibergs beamed.

Be­sides cof­fee and sugar, there are ap­par­ently a few more se­crets to her longevity. Pota­toes, for one. “Any form, but she really loves fries,” said Colomb.

Ro­mance nov­els, for an­other. “She’s an avid reader, and we al­ways see her with the books with the steamy pic­tures on the cover,” laughed hally Shul­man, Manor­Care’s di­rec­tor of ac­tiv­i­ties.

But if you ask Treibergs di­rectly, she’ll tell you it’s her “fight­ing spirit.”

“I’ve been through a lot, I’m tough,” she said.

In­deed. Treibergs, who was born near Riga, the cap­i­tal of Latvia, in 1913, sur­vived the rav­ages of World War I, when the coun­try en­dured bru­tal fight­ing be­tween Ger­man and Rus­sian forces. Latvia suf­fered again dur­ing World War II, but as Colomb ex­plained, Treibergs and her fam­ily took the last ship that left free Latvia prior to the Soviet in­va­sion of 1940 ( and the sub­se­quent Nazi in­va­sion) and moved to Ger­many.

And 68 years ago this week, Treibergs, who was 32 at the time, was on a train to Dres­den the night Al­lied forces be­gan their dev­as­tat­ing bomb­ing cam­paign on the Ger­man city.

“The train stopped, they said, ‘ Ev­ery­one needs to get off,’ and they all ran into the woods,” said Colomb. “My mother saw the planes coming in.

“It’s funny how there were dif­fer­ent things that prob­a­bly would have ended her life, and she just hap­pened to es­cape, and now she’s made it to 100,” she said.

Shul­man said that Treibergs of­ten tells sto­ries about the old days “and it brings tears to my eyes, ev­ery­thing she’s seen and been through.”

Around 1950, Treibergs im­mi­grated to Amer­ica af­ter a fam­ily in sir­ginia spon­sored her and brought her to live on their farm. She even­tu­ally mar­ried and made her way to Penn­syl­va­nia, set­tling down in Spring House, and worked as an aide in a nurs­ing home. Af­ter re­tir­ing, she lived in her home un­til she was 98, when a bro­ken hip ne­ces­si­tated surgery and a move to Manor­Care. Colomb, who lives in North Wales, said that her mother is a bit hard of hear­ing but oth­er­wise in good health, and that she loves to sing, to paint and she makes “great chicken soup.”

“She is ab­so­lutely amaz­ing,” added Shul­man. “She is very cog­ni­tive and very funny, just a sweet, sweet per­son.”

Treibergs is look­ing for­ward to see­ing Micah learn how to walk and talk. And when asked how she plans to spend her next 100 years, she and her whole fam­ily ex­ploded in laugh­ter.

“I’m not sure yet how I’m go­ing to do that,” said Treibergs, “but I’m go­ing to try and find out.”

This is the se­cret to long life right here — lots of cof­fee and sugar.

Ruta Colomb

Pho­tos by MICHAEL ALAN GOLD­BERG

Valen­tine Treibergs cel­e­brates her 100th birth­day Sun­day at Manor­Care Health Ser­vices in Mont­gomeryville.

Valen­tine Treibergs is joined by fam­ily mem­bers and friends as she cel­e­brates her 100th birth­day Sun­day at Manor­Care Health Ser­vices in Mont­gomeryville.

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