A Pioneering Spirit:
Among the treasures at The Osborn is longtime resident Louise Levy. Being a very youthful 103 isn’t her only claim to fame.
Among the treasures at The Osborn is longtime resident Louise Levy. Being a very youthful 103 isn’t her only claim to fame. She’s one of “the pioneers,” part of the first wave of seniors to move into the Sterling Park building. Mrs. Levy still runs the Saturday documentary screenings, plays bridge three times a week, and was among the models — “We had males this year!” — in the annual style show once again. “I wasn’t sure about being a model this time because I now use a walker, but the staff figured out a way I could,” she said brightly.
Born and bred in Cleveland, her family moved to New York when her older brother said that’s where he was headed. She attended Wadleigh School for Girls in Harlem. “After high school I wanted to go to Barnard College but my parents couldn’t afford it, so I went to Hunter instead,” she recalled.” Her uncle, who had a good job at Warner Brothers in New York and helped her family in a number of ways, convinced her to switch to a business school. “I ended up being able to support myself as a secretary, but to this day I regret not finishing college,” she said. Her father, an artist, went on to paint movie posters for Warner Brothers.
While she didn’t meet her future husband, Seymour Levy, until a trip to Bermuda brought them together, it turned out they lived right nearby one another in New York City for years.
Mr. Levy and his brother had a housewares business and sold products to department stores. “By the 1970s, you couldn’t sell to the department stores anymore, so they went onto mail order catalogues and became very successful. We ran the business together from our home in Larchmont, traveling to Manhattan three days a week. It was a wonderful time.”
After Mr. Levy died in 1991, she got the manufacturers to stay with her until the catalogues had reached the end of their natural shelf life. Her son Ralph, an attorney in Atlanta, helped her sell the business. But the new owner asked her to stay on.
“I worked into my 90s,” she said matter-of-factly, “but stopped when my car conked out and I recognized that I probably shouldn’t be driving anymore.”
Earlier this year, her daughter Lynn, who lives in Pelham, lost her husband. “I am grateful that I am still here and able to be some consolation to her,” said Mrs. Levy.
She’s also pleased to have four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and a fourth on the way.
Mrs. Levy shared that she’d made a lot of wonderful friends in her 19 years at The Osborn, but has lost many of them, one with whom she spent time nearly every day.
Her secret sauce is a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet for nearly 15 years, good genes (her mother lived to be 94), a love of reading, and the desire to remain an active member of the community she loves.
— Photo by Robin Jovanovich