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World War 2 veteran celebrates 100th birthday on Christmas Day

Originally Published: 26 DEC 22 14:28 ET

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    MESA, Arizona (KPHO) -- This Christmas Day, a Mesa woman and WWII veteran is marking another milestone, turning 100 years old.

Family and friends gathered Sunday for a birthday party with all the ordinary birthday celebration. The opening of cards and presents, then the sampling and sharing of treats. The woman at the center of it, Esther Misterek, is anything but ordinary.

In all these years, she’s lived a lot of lives. She was born in South Dakota, went to college first in Minnesota and later in Kansas City. As WWII raged, in 1942, Esther enlisted in the Navy as a WAVES, Women’s Reserve. “The Navy didn’t let WAVES go overseas, I guess they thought we’d get away from them or something,” she joked. Instead, she served as a medical technician. When asked why she enlisted, Misterek said, “I keep saying I like the uniforms.”

After leaving the Navy, she said she’d hoped to become a veterinarian. “They would not let me into vet school because I was a female and they were not admitting women because there were so many men coming back from the war,” she said. Instead, Misterek said she went to work at the VA in a clinical lab. Later, she worked her way up to Chief Tech.

“I enjoyed it… I never married, never had any children, had a bunch of nieces and nephews,” she said. “I’ve been breathing for a hundred years. Boy, that’s a lot of breaths to take. And some to hold.” Misterek said her secret to a long, happy life is that everything should be done in moderation. “Hard work, not taking too many chances,” she said.

Misterek still goes grocery shopping on her own. On Wednesday, she said she’s looking forward to her friend’s 100 birthday celebration.

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Kerry Mannix


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