Edna Van Dunk, a resident of New Community Extended Care, celebrated her 100th birthday with appropriate pomp and circumstance.
The Culinary Cafe was decked out in flowers and pink and white table cloths for Van Dunk, who has resided at Extended Care since 2008. There were red long-stemmed roses, cake, candles and proclamations from the Newark City Council and from the desk of Mayor Ras Baraka.
“Whereas: Edna Van Dunk was born on March 23, 1916, in Brooklyn, the second of six children, and grew up there. At that time, Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States, James Fairman Fielder was Governor of New Jersey, and a dozen eggs cost 34 cents,” the mayor’s proclamation read.
But Van Dunk couldn’t have been more nonchalant. Wearing a royal purple dress and white hat with a bow, Van Dunk chatted with everyone around her and cracked jokes.
“I have a cake? Oh, how nice!” Van Dunk said. “I’m mixed up here with this birthday business,” she added.
Her son, Herbert Van Dunk, 62, a resident of New Community Douglas Homes, held his cell phone to his mother’s ear for birthday wishes coming from far-flung loved ones.
Director of Nursing Veronica Onwunaka believes that Van Dunk’s secret to long life is that, “she has a very carefree attitude.”
Onwunaka contacted the mayor’s office to request a proclamation for Van Dunk’s 100th birthday as part of the city’s longstanding tradition of honoring centenarians.
Edna Van Dunk’s Life
1916: Born in Brooklyn, New York
1932: Worked as housekeeper
1934: Graduated from high school
1942: Worked with Visiting Nurse Service in
New York City
1951: Married to Herbert Van Dunk, Sr.
1959: Moved to Newark, worked as licensed
practical nurse at Newark Beth Israel
1961: Husband passed away at age 40
1977: Moved to Weslaco, Texas, to serve as a
1988: Earned teacher’s certificate, worked as
part-time teacher at Somerset Street
School in Newark
1989: Part-time preschool teacher at Quitman
Street and Spruce Street schools in
2008: Moved to New Community Extended
2016: Celebrated 100th birthday