Juniper Village resident Mary Borza celebrates her 100th birthday

Juniper Village resident Mary Borza celebrated her  100th birthday on Feb.16.

Donning a tiara and birthday sash, she was all smiles posing for photos with family and friends. About 100 people attended the celebration, which included Borza’s family and  fellow residents of the Village, located in Williamstown.

The shiny  tiara and sash were gifts from Borza’s granddaughter. The centenarian is a well-loved pillar of the community who actively helps other residents and staff members throughout the retirement home.

But Mary Borza’s life is full of rich history, love, and selflessness.

The Hungarian-born immigrant sat quietly in her wheelchair, surrounded by photos and celebratory mementos of that life.

Borza came to the United States when she was 17. She was the youngest in a family with  one sister and seven brothers.

“It was hard because I couldn’t speak English,” she explained. “I didn’t know anybody and didn’t have any friends.”

Borza’s first job was as a nanny to two young girls, a position that helped her learn English. She met her future husband, Joseph, when she resided in New York City. The young couple married when both were 21, and shortly after, had their first child, Marian.

World War II shattered her newfound happiness when her husband was drafted, which required him to quickly gain his American citizenship. Mary eventually became a citizen,  too. With Joseph away at war, Mary and her infant daughter moved in with her in-laws in  Williamstown. Upon his return, Joseph and his family decided to remain in Williamstown, where Mary has lived ever since.

She is actively involved in supporting her church, Our Lady of Peace Parish, where her husband was once an usher. Joseph was a jeweler and Mary was a devoted stay-at-home mom. The couple had three more daughters and eight grandchildren.

“I love my whole family,” Mary said. “I couldn’t ask for any better.”

“She’s a giving woman,” said Kathleen Graham, a director at Juniper Village. “She’s always putting someone else first.”

Borza participates in many of the activities at Juniper Village and is a highly skilled crocheter. The hats she makes are donated to the local hospital and worn by its  newborns. Her volunteering ranges from making pizzas to husking corn.

For Borza, having family close is the most important aspect of her life. Her generosity and bright smile are cherished by staff members and residents alike and she has touched many lives with her numerous acts of kindness over the years.