For many, birthdays become more precious as we age, and each one past a certain age is that much sweeter.

Such was the case for World War II veteran Phil Schwartz, who celebrated his 102nd birthday earlier this month with a party at 2Life Communities’ Coleman House in Newton, the senior living community he has called home for nearly 20 years.

Surrounded by friends, family and 2Life staff, including the organization’s longtime president and CEO Amy Schectman, Schwartz received a cake and gifts from those in attendance. Residents and staff say Schwartz is actively involved in 2Life programs and activities, including volunteering for the Coleman House Resident Council.

Even after a century of life, those close to him say Phil is still curious about the world around him, even mastering Zoom early in the pandemic to access lifelong learning programs and listening to music on his iPhone and iPad.

“Phil is the coolest!” says Schectman. “What makes any 2Life community a fabulous place to live is the people who choose to live with us. Phil is a perfect example.”

Born in Linden, N.J., in 1921, Schwartz served in World War II between 1942 and 1945, both in North Africa and Italy. After returning home to the States, he ran several small businesses, including a luncheonette in the suburb of Menlo Park. When he was 21, he eloped with his wife, Miriam. The two were inseparable as partners, soulmates and friends until her passing in 2012.

In 2004, Schwartz moved to Coleman House to be nearer to his two sons and extended family in the Boston area. Guided by age-old Jewish values, 2Life believes aging adults of all cultures and backgrounds deserve to lead lives of respect, honor and purpose. The organization operates multiple residences throughout Greater Boston and the Metrowest suburbs, serving more than 1,530 older adults.

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Phil Schwartz’s birthday cake (Courtesy 2Life Communities)

“He exemplifies the benefits of aging in community,” says Schectman. “Phil is a beautifully active participant in the Coleman House community and maintains many meaningful friendships.”

It’s a community that has been Schwartz’s home for the better part of two decades and one that celebrated him wholeheartedly as he moved further into his second century with a smile.

“He always has a big smile on his face,” says Schectman. “It was such a joy to see that smile as we celebrated such a momentous occasion with him, his family and all his friends and neighbors.”

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