Bea Cohen, a 60-year resident of Westchester who served with the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) during World War II, celebrated her 100th birthday with 140 friends and family members at the Proud Bird restaurant earlier this month.
Though friends and family came from around the country to mark the special occasion, Cohen, who was born February 3rd, 1910, modestly said the milestone “is no big thing.”
“People are making more of it than I do,” said Cohen, who has lived in the same Westchester home since 1950.
But she made sure to take in the celebration, dancing the “Hora” at her birthday party February 6th.
Cohen was born in Romania and immigrated to the U.S. with her family, arriving in Ellis Island, New York in 1920. The family later moved to California in 1929, where Cohen said she became a “Rosie the Riveter” working with the Douglas Aircraft Co. in Santa Monica.
She joined the WAAC in 1943 and was serving in an office with the Army in England during the Normandy Invasion, she said. While in England, Cohen also played baseball on a women’s team that earned a victory over a men’s team, she recalled.
Cohen met her husband Ray, who was taken as a prisoner of war for 42 months in the Philippines, after the war.
The two were married for 57 years until Ray’s death in 2003. The couple had two daughters, Janiece and Susan, who live in Southern California.
Cohen has been involved in a variety of activities in the Westchester community over the years, such as oil painting at Emerson Adult School. Though legally blind, she continues to take an upholstery class at the school.
The secret to her longevity, she says, is taking a lot of vitamins and keeping active.“I take it one day at a time,” she said.