METHUEN, MA – Neska Berthel certainly has a lot to celebrate! The Methuen Village resident turned 101 this month, and she also received the community’s Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing her long list of accomplishments throughout her life and honoring her personal history.
Neska was born in Methuen to Belarusian immigrants. She spoke Russian in her home and only learned English once she started school. Neska graduated from Methuen High School in 1937 and received additional business training at McIntosh College in Dover, NH. She settled in Malden with her husband and three kids, living in her home for more than 70 years. She was a stay at home mom until her youngest child entered school and then worked as a legal secretary – first locally in Malden, then at Goodwin Procter in Boston.
Neska says her favorite childhood memory was picking blueberries in the woods around Methuen. She would bring them home to her mother to make pie, and then go door to door selling the rest for 25 cents a quart.
“That’s what I would write in my papers at school when we had to write about what we did over the summer,” says Neska. “Sometimes it felt too ordinary to write about, but everything was a lot different with poor immigrant parents, there weren’t big vacations or anything. But I did enjoy the blueberries, and I remember it well!”
To celebrate Neska’s milestone birthday and award, the team at Methuen Village pulled out all the stops. There were large gold 101 balloons, flowers, cake, and a display of Neska’s family photos alongside her framed Lifetime Achievement Award certificate. Neska’s family and friends joined the event virtually via Zoom, including her son Wayne, granddaughter Hillary, and great grandchildren!
In addition to her accomplishments, Neska was also celebrating something special this year – beating Covid-19 and receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Methuen Village’s culinary team marked the occasion with a special lobster dinner just for Neska.
“The Lifetime Achievement Award is about recognizing that every single person in our community has a story to tell,” said Tracy Valletti, Executive Director of Methuen Village. “The residents here have done so much in their lives, and it’s important that we honor that and share their stories with others.”
Methuen Village is an Assisted Living and Compass Memory Support community nestled alongside Riverwalk Park. For more information about Methuen Village, visit www.MethuenVillage.com.