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PIA Member on Turning 100 - "I Don't Feel or Think Old"

Astrid Thoenig works full time in bookkeeping, A/P and general administrative support for the Thorton Agency Inc., a PIA member agency in Parsippany, New Jersey....
September 29, 2009

Astrid ThoenigAstrid Thoenig works full time in bookkeeping, A/P and general administrative support for the Thorton Agency Inc., a PIA member agency in Parsippany, New Jersey. Thoenig works five days a week and brings work home in the evenings. But last week, she spent a little extra time at her desk at the agency opening birthday cards that said, "Happy 100th."

Thoenig was interrupted by a steady stream of deliverymen bringing bouquets, chocolate-dipped strawberries and stacks of cards to the Thornton Insurance agency in Parsippany, New Jersey where she's been answering phones, keeping financial records, handling payroll and typing up documents for 32 years.

"It's another day - it's hard to explain," Thoenig said of turning 100. "I don't feel old, and I don't think old." Born Sept. 24, 1909, in Bloomfield, New Jersey, Thoenig's earliest memories start in 1918, when she witnessed something so traumatic, "it erased all memories of my childhood before that."

"I remember coming down the stairs from my bedroom and saw these two coffins in the living room: one white, for my sister, and the other for the grown person," she said, recalling how the flu pandemic of 1918 killed her father and her 10-year-old sister within hours of one another. "To see my father and sister -- of all the things I can't remember - that's very vivid in my mind."
Thoenig, her remaining sister, and her mother also were infected but survived. Her mother lived until 101 and her sister, who suffered permanent hearing loss from the illness, was 95 when she died.

Thoenig says "thinking young" has helped her take a century's worth of technological changes in stride. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, she credits her strong constitution, a wonderful family and getting up every day to get dressed and go to work with keeping her mind sharp. She still drove until age 98 when a botched hip operation made it difficult to get around.
She works alongside her son, John Thornton, who drives her to work, and grandson Peter at the PIA member, family-owned insurance agency.

New Jersey Insurance Worker on Turning 100 (Associated Press 9/28/09)

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