Côte St. Luc resident Cecile Klein, née Efros, who came through the 1918 Spanish Flu and 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemics without being infected, celebrated her 114th birthday at the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre with family, partially via Zoom.
Klein is Canada’s oldest person and, according to the Gerontology Research Group, the 12th oldest person in the world.
The Gerontology WIKI website says she is a “supercentenarian and the oldest validated living person in Canada.”
The site adds that she was born June 15, 1907 in Montreal, attended secretarial school in 1923, “taught herself typing and began working for a lawyer’s office, and later started working for an early form of Human Resources at RCA Victor. During the Great Depression, Cecile Efros managed to find her uncles a position at RCA Victor,” whose Canadian head office was then headquartered in Montreal.
She then lived lived in Westmount and married Erwin Klein in 1932, who owned a pharmacy that was later bought by Bayer, and they had three children. The couple was married for 67 years, until Erwin’s death in 1999. Klein continued to live in Westmount for decades, and then became a resident of Maimonides.
According to media reports, she has three children, seven grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
A Côte St. Luc statement points out that she “kept physically active her entire life. Even into her 100s, she attended live theatre in Côte St. Luc.
“Longevity runs in her family. Her great grandmother was also a centenarian, as was her great grandmother’s sister.”
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said he has known “Cecile for many years as a family friend. Her daughter Harriet and my mom Irma have been close friends since high school. Cecile has been an inspiring patron of the live theatre performances put on by the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society. She has attended most of our shows.
“Cecile has told me in the past the secret to her long life has been to not worry about the small things. A good lesson for us all. When she came to see Fiddler on the Roof in 2013, I’ll never forget how she scaled those stairs at the Wagar building, explaining that walking up stairs was good for her and helped keep her in shape. She was celebrating her 106th birthday at that time! She is a true inspiration and I’m so happy to be able to celebrate her birthday, after a difficult year around the world.”