Newton woman turns 107

NEWTON. Jennie Switzer celebrates her birthday with other residents of Liberty Towers and a cake decorated with 107 roses.

Newton /
| 19 May 2024 | 01:26

Jennie Switzer celebrated her birthday Saturday, May 18 with other residents of Liberty Towers in Newton and a cake decorated with 107 roses.

The night before, she celebrated her 107th birthday with her family.

Switzer was born May 17, 1917, in Newton, not far from Liberty Towers, where she has lived for more than 25 years, said her son, Dennis Paladini.

The family lived in Ogdensburg, then moved to Sparta when her father, Samuel Nazzaro, bought the Central Hotel at 16 Main St.

The Central Hotel was a boarding house and later a well-known restaurant. It became the first pizzeria in Sussex County when his father, Pio, began making pizza there, Dennis Paladini said. “At the time, it was very well-known.”

His mother and her siblings worked in the family business starting when they were children. She always said her worst job was cleaning the kerosene lanterns used to light the rooms, her son said.

Switzer’s brother, Louis Nazzaro, ran the business after her father, and she and her sister, Rose Accetta, worked there into their 80s.

Switzer’s nephew Samuel Nazzaro, who later ran the business with his brothers, recalled the big family gathering for lunches on Sundays before the restaurant opened to the public.

Switzer and Accetta did much of the cooking, he said. “They were always willing to help you do whatever had to be done. ... Always had positive attitudes.”

His aunt also loved her flowers, he said. The only part of gardening she disliked was the snakes.

Switzer never learned to drive, Nazzaro noted. Her husband would drive them to work in Sparta, and they would stay at the Central Hotel on the weekends because the restaurant was so busy, he said.

She continued to work part-time in the office at Liberty Towers until a couple years ago when she fell and broke her shoulder, Paladini said.

Long lives

Switzer married Pio Paladini in 1946 after he returned from fighting in World War II. They had met before the war at Darlington Mills in Newton where they both worked.

The couple built a house in Newton, where they raised two sons, including Larry, who died in 1993.

Switzer has five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She married George Switzer after Pio died.

Her family has a history of long lives, with her brother living to 94 and her sister to 95, her son said.

Paladini, a former art teacher at Sussex County Technical School, credits his mother’s long life to her Mediterranean diet, lots of coffee, and occasionally a highball or a beer.

When she’s asked her secret to long life, she always says, “ ‘If I tell you, it won’t be a secret.’ That’s her favorite line,” he said.

At her birthday party, Switzer said she takes one day at a time.

Kathy Beers, a Liberty Towers resident, called her “the most beautiful lady in the entire world.”

”She never gets mad. ... I love her, and she loves everybody.”