SUBSCRIBE NOW

'Constant energy always’: Townsend woman celebrates 100th birthday

Amanda Parrish
Middletown Transcript

TOWNSEND --  If there is one way to describe Rose Shovlin, it’s that she doesn’t like to sit still for too long.

Shovlin’s daughter Lorraine Gorman said one of her friends called her mother “the zipper” because of her short visits with her and her baby Dana, who is now 44 years old.

“She would just go into the house, see Dana and then rush out. She never stayed for any length of time because she always had something to do,” Gorman said.

As the Townsend woman turns 100, she still likes to keep busy, whether it’s playing cards, reading or going shopping.

“She has always been go-go-going. It was constant, constant energy always,” Gorman said. “She was a cleaning fanatic. She cleaned so hard, she could rub the paint off the refrigerator.”

Dana Riley, Shovlin’s granddaughter, said she goes to her house just to iron.

The only time Shovlin seems to slow down is when she is watching Turner Classic movies or reading. She said it sometimes only takes her one day to get through a mystery or romance novel.

Shovlin celebrated her 100th birthday Sept. 6 surrounded by close family and friends at La Casa Pasta in Newark.

Rose Shovlin of Townsend celebrated her 100th birthday Sept. 6 surrounded by close family and friends at La Casa Pasta in Newark.

Brooklyn born and raised

Shovlin was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up around seven siblings, including two sisters who are alive today.

“We were very, very close,” the Townsend woman said.

She called Brooklyn home throughout her childhood and into her 20s.

She said ballroom dancing and roller skating were two of the most common activities people her age did to meet new people, and skating is exactly how she met her late husband Peter.

Shovlin married Peter when she was 26 and they had two daughters and two granddaughters during their 51-year marriage: her daughter RoseAnn Sabba, 72; daughter Lorraine Gorman, 67; granddaughter Dana Riley, 44; and granddaughter Jennifer Sabba, 36.

“He was handsome,” she said as she reminisced about her time with Peter. “He used to sing nice every time he was in the shower.”

Peter was a Marine and received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star after he was wounded at Iwo Jima.

Whenever Shovlin was sick or had a baby, she recalled him making a large card with a poem on it.

Rose Shovlin of Townsend celebrated her 100th birthday Sept. 6 surrounded by close family and friends at La Casa Pasta in Newark.

Gormanof Townsend, remembers that opening Christmas presents was never easy in the Shovlin house.

“You never just got a gift and opened it up. You had to work hard for it,” she said. “She used to put money in the Christmas ball and you had to break the Christmas ball to find it or they would send us on a scavenger hunt.”

The tradition has continued. Gorman said she did the same for her daughters and now Riley does it with her three children.

A woman of faith

Growing up around Shovlin, Riley said she was honest and loving, but the one part of her grandmother that has left a mark on her was her religion.

“She lifted you up in prayer. She is very religious and praised several times a day for everyone she loved. That has left a lasting impression on me.” Riley said.

Rose Shovlin of Townsend celebrated her 100th birthday Sept. 6.

Gorman’s friends would call and ask her to pray for them.

“Her prayers are powerful. Everyone wants her to pray for them because they know that she will,” she said.

Riley said Shovlin is more than a grandmother to her, but a great friend because she can talk to her about anything.

Gorman said when she was still in middle school and high school, her mother would wait up at night until she came home if she went out with friends.

“If I wanted to tell her what happened, I could just go into the bedroom and it was never a problem,” she said.

Now as an adult with her own children, Riley said the relationship Shovlin has with her two sons and daughter is incredible.

“Because she is so active and independent she is able to attend all their school functions and events and sit in the bleachers,” she said. “They love her so very much."