105-year-old woman celebrates birthday in Boynton Beach rehab center

Ed Petok can remember his mother, Eva, lugging him along to a New York State Democratic Party convention in 1949 when he was five years old.

"She was very active in the party," says Petok, 67, who spent his early days with his parents in Brooklyn. "She was active in all the precincts around and she took me with her. Handing out buttons and banners. Whatever there was to be done."

Eva Cohen Petok, born Aug. 6, 1907, celebrated her 105th birthday a day early Sunday at the Boynton Beach Rehabilitation Center where she lives. She was surrounded by family and friends.

Ed Petok said his mother was born in Brooklyn, one of 10 children, and became active politically at an early age. She went on to serve as a state leader of the New York Democratic Party from 1951 to 1971. In that position she got to know some of the leading political figures of her time, her son said.

"She knew Adlai Stevenson," he said, referring to the Democratic presidential candidate in both 1952 and 1956. "She knew President John Kennedy. She was very depressed, overwhelmed when he died."

After 1971, Eva gave up political activism.

"She was always a great mother, but I think she just decided to spend more time being a mother and then a grandmother," her son said.

She also devoted herself to good deeds, serving as a leader of national organization known as the Pythian Sisters.

She moved to South Florida 11 years ago, her son said.

Her granddaughter Staci Schneider, 36, of Boca Raton, was at the celebration Sunday with her own daughter Hali. She remembered how active her grandmother was until recent years.

"She was still living up in New York, in her 90s and getting on buses in the snow to do her elder activities and charitable activities," she recalls. "Down here, too, she was out and around. She was more active than any of us."

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