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Elizabeth Lucas celebrates her 111th birthday

Elizabeth Lucas and her son, Robert Lucas, raise a toast on her 111th birthday on April 6. -- Contributed

STEUBENVILLE — It’s not every day that a person celebrates a 111th birthday, much less under the conditions of a coronavirus pandemic that’s impacting the world as we know it.

But that’s how it played out for Elizabeth Ann Lucas, who marked the April 6 milestone birthday with a through-the-window toast with her son, Robert Lucas of Steubenville, as the contributed photo captures.

Mrs. Lucas is a long-term guest at the Laurels of Steubenville and enjoyed the birthday visit from her son and daughter-in-law, Darlene, who were on the outside looking in, courtesy of the COVID-19 restrictions that make in-person visits at the nursing home facility not possible.

“You can see in the picture we toasted each other. She toasted me, and I toasted her,” Robert said in a phone interview Monday.

He made the window signs for the occasion. The Laurels helped celebrate with refreshments and other decorations.

Robert said his mother was born in Belle Vernon, Pa., the eldest of 11 children. Her parents were Martin Antal and Agata “Agnes” Golema, a mail-order bride from Poland who arrived in the United States with a trunk of clothing and $6. The family lived in a modest two-bedroom house.

Mrs. Lucas quit school at a young age so she could get a job and help out financially.

“She cleaned houses all week and then would go home on the weekend and give her mom all the money she made, just to help out,” Robert had explained at his mother’s 110th birthday celebration.

Longevity apparently runs in the family as her mother lived to be 102.

Mrs. Lucas had been in assisted living in Pennsylvania for some time, but Robert brought her to the Laurels after she fell and broke her ankle.

By then he had already made his home in Steubenville, working at then Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. after transferring from the steel works in Monessen, Pa. Having her at The Laurels made her close by, just minutes away.

Under normal circumstances, Robert said he visits the Laurels twice a week, but that’s changed since the pandemic restrictions.

“I call on the phone, but she’s not real talkative. It might last 15 seconds,” he said, agreeing that not being able to visit a loved ones during these times is unfortunate.

“It’s tough,” he said. “I miss going in and seeing her and everybody. It’s a very nice place, but I imagine everyone else is in the same boat,” he added, referring to other people not being able to visit their loved ones at the Laurels or other nursing home facilities for that matter.

Mrs. Lucas and her husband, the late Walter Lucas, also had, in addition to Robert, a daughter, Dorothy, and a son, Walter Jr. Both are deceased. The family includes several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Robert said his mother is a person who’s always had a big heart.

“She is very gentle. She is very loving. I’ve never heard a foul word out of her mouth,” he said. “I never heard her cuss,” he said. “She taught me to take people (at face value), not to hold grudges … life’s too short.”

She also has always liked to play bingo and cards.

“She is very soft spoken, modest and doesn’t draw attention to herself,” Robert said in describing his mother as “a very devout Catholic” who always attends worship services provided at the Laurels.

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