Mary Luniewski, one of Parker Jewish Institute’s longest-living residents, celebrated her 101st birthday last month. This joyous occasion brought family, friends and fellow residents together for a birthday bash on Parker’s sixth floor.
Luniewski was born in Brooklyn on Dec. 18, 1917. It wasn’t easy for a young woman growing up in 1930s Depression-era Brooklyn, but in spite of that, Luniewski was able to find work, first as a bank teller and then as a secretary at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She met her husband, Julius, and they were married in May 1941. Both Luniewski and Julius were children of Polish immigrants that arrived in the United States as teenagers circa 1905 on the trans-Atlantic ships of the Red Star Line. Julius joined the Navy and served on a Troop Transport in the Atlantic Theatre from 1942 to 1946.
After his Honorable Discharge from the Navy, Julius returned to Brooklyn to the loving arms of his beloved wife, and the Luniewski’s raised a family, as many returning veterans did. Julius secured a good job working for Brooklyn Union Gas for the next 42 years. Meanwhile, Luniewski took care of the home while raising her family. She had three daughters and one son, and was blessed with 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
In later years, the Luniewski family moved to their first home in Richmond Hill, Queens. Devoted to her Catholic faith, Luniewski became deeply involved with the Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill. Unfortunately, her beloved husband passed away in 1995. Luniewskiremained steadfastly independent, living alone in her Richmond Hill home, while receiving frequent visits from her extended family.
As it happens with all family matriarchs, the decades took their toll on Luniewski, who came down with pneumonia two years ago. With her loving family coming to her aid, she was brought to the Emergency Room at Long Island Jewish Hospital (LIJ) and admitted there for treatment. After she was stabilized, Luniewski was transitioned to Parker for long term skilled nursing care.
“To this day, she frequently plays Scrabble with family visitors and her newfound friends at Parker,” according to her son Richard Luniewski. “Mom also enjoys games of 500 Card Rummy and Rack-O. I remember playing these games with my mother as a youngster.”
Luniewski’s pneumonia was cured during her stay at Parker, and she’s remained there ever since, as she is too frail and her legs too weak for her to live alone at home. Despite her age, Luniewski has undertaken several special projects. She enjoys crocheting Baby Hats for preemies, which are donated to LIJ. She created dozens of colorful Baby Hats up until last year.
Many of the long term care residents have become Luniewski’s friends, and she enjoys taking part in the many activities Parker has to offer its patients and residents. Her experience at Parker has been very warm and supportive, according to her son Richard, adding that she looks forward to those special days of quality time with friends, loved ones and grandchildren, who frequently visit the centenarian-plus one.
—Submitted by Parker Jewish Institute