‘Wunderbar,' Angelia Bergman, on your 100th birthday

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:50

    WARWICK-When Angelia Bergman was born, Theodore Roosevelt had just been inaugurated as President of the United States for his second term. And closer to her birthplace of Cologne (Koln), Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II was about to sign a short-lived offense and defense treaty with Tzar Nicholas II of Russia. The Wright Brothers had only recently demonstrated that a machine could fly. Automobiles were a passing novelty and most people traveled by horse and carriage. The year was 1905. On Friday, July 1, Bergman, now a resident of Schervier Pavilion, a skilled nursing facility at the Bon Secours Warwick Health Care Campus, celebrated her 100th birthday with close members of her family and Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard. Before entering Schervier almost eight years ago, she had been a resident of nearby Mount Alverno Center Adult Home and Assisted Living Program. "Angelia has always demonstrated a sparkling personality and friendliness to all our residents and staff," said Kari Call, CTRS. "Everyone is thrilled that she could celebrate this important birthday with her family." Call, a certified therapy recreation specialist (CTRS) serves as Director of Recreation at Schervier Pavilion. Although celebrating one's 100th birthday is no small achievement for anyone, it is especially so in the case of Angelia Bergman who survived two wars. Her hometown, Cologne, in particular, was nearly destroyed in a firestorm resulting from Allied bombing raids during World War II. "We used to sleep fully clothed with a suitcase packed and ready to go," recalled her daughter Karen Wagner. "And when the alarm sounded we were ready to rush to the bunker where we sometimes stayed for two or three days." There were also happier times. Bergman and her husband Klaus survived the war and raised two daughters, Karen Wagner, a resident of Warwick, and Marlina Messina, who now lives in Belgium. And, at a time when European women were not as independent as today, Bergman had the distinction of being the first woman in Cologne to be issued a driver's license. She was also talented. "My mother always had a love of music and poetry and she often reminisces about playing her violin and concert zither," said Wagner. "She still entertains herself and others by singing and reciting poetry." In 1962, Bergman, whose husband had passed away, left Germany to join her daughter Karen in the United States. Staying close to her family, she moved from Omaha, Nebraska to New Jersey and finally to Warwick. During her birthday celebration and while surrounded by her family, the mayor first read a special birthday greeting from The White House, which was signed by George and Laura Bush. On behalf of the Village Board of Trustees, Newhard then read and presented a proclamation honoring Bergman on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Although she is fluent in English, Bergman's response, readily understood by all present as she clapped her hands, was "Wunderbar!" And when asked to what factors did she attribute her longevity, Bergman's answer brought much laughter and required little translation. "I ate well and drank schnaps," she smiled.