Saturday, 12 February 2011

CURRENT EVENTS: Helping Pearl Lutzko Celebrate Her 112th Birthday!

Pearl  Lutzko (Taken at age 105)
As Alisdair and I were delivering The Saskatoon Star Phoenix, one recent January morning, the front page feature photo caught our attention. The story accompanying the photograph (see above) introduced us to an interesting Canadian. Pearl Lutzko will, God willing, celebrate her 112th birthday on Tuesday, February 15th. She is a typical Canadian ~ a hardworking immigrant who came to this country in search of a better life for herself and her children.

Allow me to introduce you to this special lady.  I have copied the story, that was published in the paper, below:

REGINA - Verna Adamiak isn't sure if there's any secret to her grandmother's long life.

But now that Ituna's Pearl Lutzko is touted to be the oldest living Canadian, there must be something that has led to her nearly 112 years.

"It had to be set in the works somewhere," said Adamiak, who also lives in Ituna, located 160 kilometres northeast of Regina. "She just lived a normal life. There was nothing special that she did that other people don't do. I can't tell you what her recipe is."

Lutzko was born on February 15, 1899 in Chortikiw, Ukraine and is believed to be the oldest person in Canada at 111 years and 11 1/2 months.

The title had belonged to Elizabeth Buhler of Winkler, Manitoba, who passed away on Sunday. Buhler was to have turned 112 on February 8.

While Lutzko has lived a mostly quiet life - coming to Canada in 1907, marrying John Lutzko in 1915, farming near Goodeve until 1959 and living on her own for 28 years after John died in 1975 - she was drawing plenty of attention on Tuesday.

"It hits you and you go, 'This is something pretty exciting,' " said Adamiak. "Not too many people ever get to this point in life."

Still, the day's excitement didn't keep her from her normal daily activities — even when a CBC camera crew was visiting her room at the Ituna Pioneer Health Care Centre lodge, where Lutzko has lived since 2003.

"One of the (lodge) workers came in and said, 'Grandma, it's bingo. Are you going to go to bingo?' " Adamiak said. "(She said,) 'I'm finished here, let's go to bingo.' So she went to bingo so that tells you she still has some interests in life."

"She makes it known to the staff what she would like to wear and what she's willing to eat and what she wants to eat," said Chris Klimczak, the health centre's recreation co-ordinator. "She's very strong-willed that way."

Lutzko, who is six years older than the province of Saskatchewan, attends the lodge's Roman Catholic church service every Wednesday and according to her 94-year-old son, Nick, "she will talk to you loads."

"Her legs are giving out, but other than that, she's OK," continued Nick, who also lives in Ituna.

"I don't know what the secret is but I suppose she could tell you a big story from her life."

Pearl Lutzko gave birth to seven children and has 29 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren and 26 great-great-grandchildren (although that last number could be off by one, said Adamiak).

The family is spread mostly through Alberta and Saskatchewan but some will likely be back for Lutzko's birthday party next month.

"Since she was 85 years old, we have always had a birthday party for her and the last 10 or so have been getting bigger and bigger and bigger," said Adamiak.

"We were just making it a regular birthday party until (Tuesday), but now I think we're going to have to open it up a little bit."                                                                      © Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

Pearl is 100 years (and a few months) older than Alisdair as he was born in the fall of 1999. "Hey, you should make her a birthday card," I said, half-jokingly, as we talked about what it would be like to have lived that long.

Yesterday Alisdair took me up on my suggestion!

Front of Card
He printed out a picture and a greeting from a childrens' website and then coloured it in and then we cut and pasted it together.

Inside of Card
So, Happy Birthday, Pearl ~ from Porter's Primary! We'll pop your special card in the post on Monday morning.  Who knows?  It might even make it to Ituna in time for the party of the Century!

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