Cecile Klein, Canada’s oldest person for 7 months, dies at 114

Asked how she lived so long, the Montreal native, who saw two pandemics and two world wars, attributed her old age to ‘good genes and sheer luck’

Cecile Klein with her daughter Harriet Nussbaum (right) and granddaughter Elaine Nussbaum (left)
Cecile Klein with her daughter Harriet Nussbaum (right) and granddaughter Elaine Nussbaum (left)

JTA — Cecile Klein, an energetic supercentenarian with ties to Montreal’s Jewish community and institutions, spent seven months as Canada’s oldest person before passing away on January 13.

An obituary for Klein published in the Canadian Jewish News noted that in addition to living through two pandemics and two world wars, and working for her Israel-born husband’s pharmaceutical company, she volunteered throughout her life, notably helping her father fundraise for Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital.

The Montreal native attended continuing education-style courses at the hospital, which is affiliated with McGill University, into her 100s. According to the Jewish News, she kept up with world news on the daily, reading a newspaper — without glasses — until she was 111. She also regularly went to fitness classes at the city’s Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors, which opened in 2000 — suggesting she exercised well into her 90s and beyond.

Klein was preceded in death by her late husband Erwin Klein, whom she married in 1932. She is survived by her three children Harriet, Louise and Arnold, eight grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

In the same week, New Jersey’s oldest resident, a Jewish woman named Edith Hodes Rose, died on January 11 at the age 111.

Rose was the daughter of a seltzer salesman, who at first made deliveries with a horse-drawn wagon, according to a New Jersey Jewish News article about her 100th birthday in 2010. Her parents immigrated from what is now Latvia, the NJJN reported, at the turn of the 20th century. Six of their eight children lived into their 90s, and two of them, including Rose, lived into their 100s — leading the New York-based Albert Einstein College of Medicine to enroll them in a study about longevity, reported.

Rose grew up in Newark and later lived in Maplewood, and along the way was a member of multiple New Jersey synagogues, along with Essex County’s National Council of Jewish Women. She answered the time-honored question of how she lived so long for the NJJN.

“Good genes, I suppose — and sheer luck,” she said. “Maybe doing things in moderation — but mainly luck.”

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