Story by Sara Paul
Ask Hilda Hagen what her secret to a long, healthy life, and she’ll confidently confide, “It’s my good Norwegian blood!”
On Thurs., Dec. 19, Hilda was pleasantly surprised when friends and family threw her a 100th birthday bash at the Warwick Senior Center.
“I was completely shocked. It’s a good thing I came today. I almost wasn’t going to,” smiled Hilda, whose actual date of birth is Dec. 21, 1919.
Icy conditions and frigid weather could not keep the dozens of party guests away from the afternoon festivities, which included birthday cake, sweet treats, and the annual Holiday Sweater Contest. Hilda’s dear friend Corry Vanduynhoven chauffeured the birthday girl to the Senior Center, as she does faithfully and promptly every week.
It was actually Hilda’s second surprise soirée as her friends at Calvary Baptist Church prepared a birthday party for her as well.
“It’s really a wonderful life, and it’s been wonderful because I have a wonderful family. Everybody always gets together. We have a very close family,” said Hilda, who has two sons, Kevin and Kenneth, and two grandchildren, Kiah and Luke. Her husband, Lee, passed away in 1995.
Hilda enjoys Warwick living with lots of shopping, going out with friends, and also entertaining at home. The Town of Warwick resident was born in Norway and arrived in the US via ship with her parents and two siblings when she was three years old.
“People weren’t traveling by airplanes back then,” Hilda chuckled.
Her family settled in Brooklyn, NY, where Hilda attended school and eventually took a job as a secretary at Topps Company, Inc., a manufacturer of chewing gum, candy and collectibles. Hilda worked there for 14 years before retiring in 1982, when she moved to Warwick with her husband and their sons.
Hilda’s son Kevin made a surprise guest appearance and was excited to celebrate the day with a woman who he said, “always has been and still is a great mom.”
Perhaps another secret to aging well and staying healthy, Kevin tells is, “She loves life, loves her family, loves her home, and enjoys it all.”