Happy 108th Birthday, Nadya Lanyi
Jo Anne Disney
February 13, 2014 • 359 views
Nadya Lanyi, a resident of Vista Cove in Arcadia since 2009, celebrated her 108th Birthday on February 10, 2014. A survivor of the Russian Revolution, “Nadya is one of the oldest living people in Southern California according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
Her life began in Lithuania in 1906, where according to her son Ron, she lived a very meager life, much of the time in poverty. Her parents had 5 children, but could not take them all with them when they left for America. Nadya recalled when she lived with an aunt, she had “to sleep in the oven at night because it was the warmest place in the house.” Then, she was sent to an orphanage “where she ate the bark off of trees and had no shoes.” Her son Ron, a retired English Professor at Pasadena City College, said that his mom would use old carpet and newspaper to make shoes to keep her feet warm. At the orphanage, Nadya fought for food and learned to protect her younger siblings.
In 1921 her parents sent for her and her 2 other siblings to come to America. They came to Ellis Island and then joined their parents in Detroit, Michigan, where her father had secured a job with the Ford Motor Company, where the first Model T Ford was developed. The family would own several different businesses, a grocery store and even a gas station, all due to the entrepreneurial skills of Nadya’s mother.
Later, Nadya moved to Chicago where she met and fell in love with Anthony Thomas Lanyi and married him in 1933. They had 3 sons and then moved to New York. In 1945, Nadya moved her family to Manhattan into a “rent controlled apartment.” Ron said they had a wonderful view of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge until a high rise apartment building was built next door.
Nayda and her husband divorced in 1953. Then, she began working in a factory that made bronze plaques. Her job was to pick letters and place them on the bronze signs. Nadya continued living in her apartment until she was 104 years old. She retired around 1976, but kept active. Nayda even joined a hiking club. Her son Ron, her only surviving child, said he wanted his mom to come and live closer to him. He didn’t want her to continue walking the steep hills from her apartment. It was amazing to think that, “Nadya was only paying $550.00 per month on a $7,000.00 per month apartment on the upper east side.”
Up until 3 weeks ago, Nayda was very independent and attended exercises every morning. Nadya is now having trouble walking, but can still carry on a conversation, sometime in Russian. Nadya Lanyi is an amazing woman who has lived an amazing life. She is a survivor. HAPPY 108TH BIRTHDAY, Nayda Lanyi!