Villagers in the News

Heritage Village has many talented and capable residents who are newsworthy in one form or another because of their various achievements, talents, or milestones. This page of the Heritage Village website is dedicated to showcasing their accomplishments.
     This February, we’re presenting 4 Heritage Village residents who have achieved meaningful success that deserve recognition.
     If you know of any residents that might be featured in future articles, please email Doris Sommers at
February 15, 2021
Happy 100th Birthday to Irene Neuberger
At 100 Years – She Makes It Sound Easy!
Doris Somers interviewed Irene Neuberger on the phone on February 9, 2021
What makes Irene Neuberger suitable to appear on “Villagers in the News?” Very simply, Irene is one of the few people on our planet who has been here for 100 years. February 15 is her birthday, a milestone to many of us, but one that Irene really doesn’t think about too much. She takes life on a day-by-day basis, and judging by our conversation, seems to enjoy each and every one of them.
     Born in 1921 in Berlin, Germany, she very much wanted to leave Germany after the war and had heard about the United States, its lifestyle and opportunities.  So with the help of an aunt in Scarsdale, NY, Irene was able to come to America in 1953 and, ultimately, become a US citizen. Not too long after her arrival, she began to work in the office of a family business in New York City.
     It was in New York City where she met her husband, who had had to leave Germany during the war years. They settled in New York for many years, but as the couple aged, they began looking for a place to live that was welcoming to older people, such as those over 55 years of age.
     While on vacation, they met a couple who sent them information about a place called Heritage Village.  They looked, they talked, they decided, and they moved into Heritage Village about 30 years ago. Irene loves it here.
     Irene keeps physically fit by walking every day for 40 minutes, albeit using a cane, but she’s out there!  She’s not an athletic person, but growing up with two brothers kept her very active. She also uses a device at home, originally bought for her husband (now deceased), where she moves her legs while sitting and this improves circulation.
     In regard to diet, Irene enjoys three meals a day and has aides helping her with shopping and cooking.  She likes toast, rolls, cereal, vegetables, soup, fish, and definitely prefers foods without preservatives.
     Irene’s mind is sharp! She reads the New York Times from cover to cover every day with the help of a device called a video magnifier that provides additional magnification and illumination: it makes newspaper print appear larger and therefore easy to read. She also reads her mail with this device. Irene is very aware and interested in world events and politics.
     I asked what advice she might give to young people. “It’s important to be a ‘down-to-earth’ person and ‘live a normal life.’ Don’t think of yourself as more special than anyone else and try to do the best that you can do.”
     Irene is a pleasure to talk with; she’s very unassuming, knows exactly what she wants to say, and is extremely likeable. This is a woman who, at the age of 100, has got it all together! Congrats, Irene, on your big birthday!
February 2021
Ed Edelson's New Children’s Book Tells How Southbury Fought the Nazis
Ed Edelson recently published an illustrated children’s book entitled “Lois’s Story: A Young Girl’s Inspiration Helps to Stop Hate and Fear.” This is Ed’s first published book. It is historical fiction based on the events that happened in Southbury in 1937 when the German American Bund, an American organization based on the teachings of Adolph Hitler, tried to build their largest training camp in Southbury. The book’s audience is children, but it has already found resonance with many adults.
     Many Villagers know of the documentary film “Home of the Brave: When Southbury Said NO to the Nazis” which is about the same events. As Ed explained, the documentary was intended for an adult audience. A major goal was to capture oral history before it was too late. A prime example was the memories of Lillian Wentworth who was 99 years young when she was interviewed for the documentary. As Ed showed the films to audiences all over the nation, he saw that there were some universal themes in the story that people wanted to explore and talk about.
     As a result of hard work and some luck, the story, which was completely unknown outside of Southbury, was used by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum for a new, large exhibit that opened in 2018. During his visit to the museum for the opening of the “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibit, Ed was looking at the books in the children’s section of the museum store. That’s when it struck him that telling the story so that young children could explore some of the themes could be a good idea.
     The book was published in December. Ed brought it to the attention of Region 15’s Teacher in Residence for Diversity and Cultural Competence. She in turn saw that it would be a perfect story to use in fourth grade for the “read-a-loud” curriculum on historical fiction. Ed was able to monitor the first offering by attending one of the fourth-grade classes for six days in a row. The response from the children and the teachers was extremely gratifying for this first-time author.
     Ed and his wife Christine have lived in Heritage Village for four years. Prior to that they owned the premier Bed and Breakfast (it was the only one) in Southbury.
Feburary 2021
Harold “Bud” Searles Exhibit at Southbury Public Library
The Gloria Cachion Gallery at the Southbury Public Library will host artist Harold “Bud” Searles, Thursday, February 4, 2021 through Thursday, February 25, 2021. Bud is an encaustic hot wax artist.
     Bud and his wife Ann of 60 years, reside in Heritage Village. They have four children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
     After moving to the Village in 2007, Bud joined the Brush and Pencil club and took up encaustic wax painting. Since there was no one practicing this technique, he went to YouTube and followed instructions offered by various teachers. Using an iron and a wire brush on a soldering tool he relied on EncausticUS to supply books and equipment to learn this craft. He also watched his fellow club members for tips on colors and shading and layout design.
     His website gives examples of his work and the history of the use of wax art over the centuries.
     Bud was also awarded the poet laureate of Derby, Connecticut over 20 years ago.
January 4, 2021
Congratulations to Ruth and Joseph Lenahan on their 80th anniversary!
Ruth and “Jim,” as he’s called, also celebrated their 100th birthdays in January.
80 Years of Marriage and Still Going Strong
Doris Sommers interviewed Ruth Lenahan on the phone, on February 5, 2021.
I asked how they managed to stay together all these years and she said, ‘It’s very important to respect each other.’ When they have had differences of opinions, they don’t argue about it. Moreover, they pretty much agree about everything, but Ruth is the boss when it comes to finding a solution about a disagreement, which is one of the many reasons they get along so well.
     The couple was married on January 4, 1941 and, currently, they are both 100 years old. Early in the marriage, Ruth was very busy bringing up two boys. Eventually when the boys got older, she worked in the office of the Bic Pen Company.
     I asked if the two were ever separated for a weekend or any length of time during the marriage. Ruth mentioned at one point in time, Joseph worked in upstate New York for 6 months for 3 years. But, throughout that time, she always visited him on the weekends so they could still spend time together.
     Does Ruth feel that marriage is still a viable institution and what advice would she give to a couple who might be contemplating getting a divorce which seems so prevalent in today’s marriages? Ruth is against divorce. She said without marriage and children, there is no life. ‘Life IS marriage and children.’ Ruth expressed the following wisdom, ‘It’s very important to think of the other person; you can’t just think only of yourself.’
     At the end of our conversation, Ruth said thoughtfully and sincerely, ‘It’s been a good marriage.’ From our short exchange, I got the impression that Ruth Lenahan is a savvy lady who is astute, quick witted and knows a thing or two about how to not only make a marriage work, but to do what it takes to ensure that it thrives and is enjoyable for both parties.
     Ruth and Joseph will be going for their COVID vaccinations in a day or two.