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   More about Kit Abrahamson ...

Pictured at left is vintage photo of Kit with her sisters. Above is a recent picture of Kit with her family.


Following is an article about Kit, published in "The Gloucester Daily Times,"
June 14, 2007 — Reprinted with permission.

Focusing on longevity: Dancer, 100, to be featured on ABC special

By Gail McCarthy,
Staff Writer
The Gloucester Daily Times

    Ever since Katherine “Kit” Abrahamson celebrated her 100th birthday, life has offered some surprises.
   The woman, who was widowed at 43 and joined the Cape Ann Seniorettes dance troupe at 80, danced before ABC cameras this week.
   Abrahamson will be featured during a two-hour Barbara Walters special on longevity, which will air early next year.

A camera crew from ABC films Kit and other
Cape Ann Seniorettes practicing a dance routine.
Photo: Mike Dean, Gloucester Daily Times.

      A film crew followed her as she prepared Tuesday for a dance recital with the Seniorettes at Miss Tina’s Dance Studio on Burnham Street. She had a one-on-one interview with a producer and attended a family barbecue that evening, all of which was caught on tape.
      “Even when the film crew was beginning to tire, she was just fine, always smiling,” said associate producer for ABC. “We came to film a dance class and ended up being so amazed by her and her family. She’s so much fun to be around.”
       The film crew caught her 89-year-old brother, Joe Barry of New Hampshire, playing basketball with one of Abrahamson’s great-grandchildren at the dinner. He is her only surviving sibling of a family with 14 children. Abrahamson is one of perhaps five centenarians who will be part of the program. The television special will cover several topics related to aging and research.
       “We were looking for somebody over 100, but doing something truly exceptional. Aside from Kit’s dancing, what amazed us was the unbelievable condition she is in, even her hearing and eyesight,” [the ABC producer said.]
       A size 4, Abrahamson weighs in at 92 pounds and stands 4 feet, 11 inches tall. When she was born March 15, 1907, in Gloucester, Theodore Roosevelt was president; Oklahoma was months away from becoming the 46th state and a loaf of bread cost four cents.
       The filming this week was the second surprise Abrahamson has had since turning 100. She was contacted by a Vaseline representative from New York after a Gloucester Daily Times article about her birthday mentioned she used the product for night cream. In turn, the company sent her a porcelain jar in which she could keep the Vaseline.

Positive aging
       Lynn Peters Adler, founder of the Phoenix-based National Centenarian Awareness Project, learned about Abrahamson through the same article. She read how Abrahamson danced past midnight at her 100th birthday party. Adler has spent the past 20 years studying and celebrating centenarians.
       ABC had contacted Adler because of her work, and she, in turn, led them to Abrahamson. Adler said work focuses on those she calls “active centenarians,” people enjoying life in their own way.
       “Active centenarians like Kit and Rockport’s Peggy Williams represent the future of aging as a concept for baby boomers because they show what’s possible if people not only live long, but age well,” Adler said. “The hardest part of what I do is finding people like Kit and Peggy, both who are inspirational. Each has an extraordinary social support network. But they are proactive, not passive, and they are putting themselves out there. We need to develop that as we get older. Sometimes people tend toward isolation as they age.”
       At 80, some people begin to withdraw, Adler said, but in Abrahamson’s case, she started dancing with the Cape Ann Seniorettes. Abrahamson knows the power of positive thinking. When someone told the centenarian that she had a happy family, she replied that “it’s better than being an old grouch.
       “Some people never smile. I think they’d crack their face if they did,” said Abrahamson, who raised two children alone.
       “Life goes on and you have to go on with it. When you have to bring up the children by yourself, it makes a big difference,” she said. “My brother says he can’t call me ‘meek’ anymore like I used to be, but I had to grow up after my husband died. He’s been gone 56 years. But I’m so lucky to have so many nice people.”
       Abrahamson almost said no to the television segment because she said felt a bit timid.
       “But they are a very nice film crew. They were so pleasant that, even though I was nervous at first, I was relaxed when it started,” she said. “Now I have to worry about my recital on Saturday.”

Raising awareness
       Adler often serves as a catalyst to bring active centenarians to public awareness, “and the media is one effective way to bring them to the attention of others.”After decades of research, Adler said growing older is getting easier.
       “It’s going to get better from here on,” she said. “I’ve had the privilege of seeing a generation of centenarians, and I can see the difference.”
        That number of centenarians in the United States has nearly tripled in a generation. She noted that census data shows that in 1985, there were about 25,000 centenarians; in 2005, there were about 72,000. Cape Ann is home to several. Adler’s nonprofit program has grown in the past two decades.
         “I began a program in Phoenix in 1985 and it was so successful in recognizing and honoring the eldest residents of Phoenix, focusing on centenarians, that I took it statewide and developed a program for the state,” she said.
         Adler holds a law degree, though she has dedicated her career to nonprofit work. Her nonprofit organization has three purposes: advocacy for better inclusion and treatment in general, celebration of centenarians’ lives and providing inspiration.
        “The inspiration is because active centenarians are redefining aging and really are role models of aging for the baby boomers,” she said. Adler wants to work toward better respect for what she calls “elders.”
       ...She is at work on her second book, which will include Abrahamson and Williams, a well known Cape Ann watercolor artist, when it is published.
       “These two women are example of how active centenarians are really a diverse group of distinct individuals,” Adler said. 


1998-2012 National Centenarian Awareness Project & Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
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