Riverhead woman turns 100, but that’s ‘no big deal’

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Edna Wagner of Riverhead celebrates her centennial birthday next Friday, June 21.
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Edna Wagner of Riverhead turned 100 on June 21.

Decked out in clip-on earrings and a gold imprinted blouse, a petite Edna Wagner laughed as she recalled memories of her past.

And what a past it has been.

Ms. Wagner turned 100 years old Friday, a feat she says is “no big deal.”

“100 is nothing,” she scoffed, noting her great grandmother lived to be 106.

“People worry too much about age,” she added.

Ms. Wagner was born in England on June 21, 1913, and lived there until about the end of World War II.

She drove an ambulance during the war, and detailed to a reporter one incident that changed her life.  While helping a mother and child out of a rubble-filled basement, bombs began to rain down.

“I was stuck up to my waist in concrete,” Ms. Wagner said.

She passed out and remembered waking up in a hospital.

“They said I’d never walk,” Ms. Wager said. “I am a very determined person.”

She did walk again, and a few years later her future husband, a man named Arthur Wagner, knocked her off her feet — literally.

“He knocked me down,” Ms. Wagner laughed of that chance meeting. “He was coming out of a pub.”

She had been walking with a cane at that point.

“I went down on the floor, naturally,” she said, and he helped her and took her home, taking a bus to make sure she was all right.

While at home, she recalled, she tended to a scrape from the fall, and returned to Mr. Wagner to find him sitting in front of a fire with her father. They were both drinking a scotch.

“My father really and truly liked Arthur,” Ms. Wager said.

The later married and moved to the United States.

She recalled traveling by boat, crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth II. The trip took five-days.

The couple eventually opened an ice cream shop, not far from their Queens home, but took frequent vacations to the East End, an area they fell in love with.

“My idea was to get out to Long Island as soon as I could,” Ms. Wagner said.

The couple moved to Riverhead in 1998. Mr. Wagner died in April. The two were married for 67 years.

“We were so much in love,” Ms. Wagner said. “We were very fortunate it doesn’t happen very often.”

She spends her time now talking with friends, and is active with her church.

And even at 100, Ms. Wagner still enjoys a Tanqueray and tonic everyday at noon.

“It is very important to relax,” Ms. Wagner said, and a great substitute for an English afternoon tea.

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