100th birthday no time to slow down for Pittsburgh woman

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Anne Likarevich is about to mark her 100th birthday, and chances are that she's busier than you this week.

She was in Pittsburgh City Council chambers on Tuesday to be recognized as the momentous occasion draws near. On Friday, her birthday, the Brighton Heights Senior Community Center will hold a lunch in honor of the new centenarian. Friends and family will convene on Saturday at Monte Cello's restaurant in Ross for further birthday festivities.

“I don't know if I can take it,” she said with a slight smile as she sat in the living room of her Observatory Hill home with her two daughters, Lillian Clark and Eleanor Groeneman, shortly after the city hall appearance. “It's too much, too much.”

Don't believe it. She seems quite capable of handling the activity.

Most people who are fortunate enough to make it to Likarevich's age have long ago stopped firing on all cylinders. Likarevich remains a spark plug with attentive eyes, a sturdy voice and no definitive answer when posed the obligatory question of how she has lasted this long.

“I really don't know,” she said. “In my 80s, I thought that I'd never make it this far. I just try to keep seeing friends, try to stay busy.”

Likarevich, who still volunteers most Thursdays in the Brighton Heights Senior Center kitchen, has had no difficulty staying busy for decades. In April, she was honored by Pittsburgh Citiparks for logging more than 40,000 hours of community service during the past four decades.

Born in Bjlovar, Croatia, she and her family emigrated to the United States when she was 7. She has lived in the same neighborhood since 1931, the same year she graduated from Duff's Business School, and has spent more than 50 years in the same house.

In the mid-1970s, she and five neighborhood friends started scouting for a place they could play cards and socialize. They first found dilapidated space in a former Lutheran church being used by the Perry Athletic Club, eventually working with the city to create the Perry North (later rechristened Observatory Hill) senior community center.

For the past decade, her volunteer efforts have focused on the Brighton Heights center, whose praises she undoubtedly would sing even if she weren't being feted there on Friday.

“You can't get bored there,” she said. “There's always something to look forward to, and it's good to be around people your own age — well, almost your own age.”

When I accurately informed Likarevich that she looks great, she offered a good-natured, self-deprecating retort: “When I hear things like that, I tell people you can't judge a book by its cover.”

Then she smiled again.

Likarevich admits her pace slowed in recent years. But as long as her health holds, she's determined to keep active as her second century dawns.

“If I stay home for more than two straight days,” she said, “I'm ready to climb the walls.”

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

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