By Angela Higginbotham
Gladys Savlowitz was born in the small town of Coal City, N.C. At four years old, after tragically losing her mother, she moved in with her beloved grandparents. Savlowitz worked on the family farm and in her grandfather’s store to help with family needs and to buy her school clothes.
In 1957, yearning for a world beyond her small town life, Savlowitz answered an ad for a live in helper for a family on Long Island, N.Y. Savlowitz inflated her birthday by a year or so in an effort to convince her new employer that she was a little older than she actually was. Every year, Savlowitz enjoys a celebration of her birthday, so hiding her sadness when her big day rolled around was impossible. All was well when the employer found out the reason for her birthday discontent, as by that time, Savlowitz had already stolen the heart of the family she worked for.
Over the years, Savlowitz worked in restaurants, as a file clerk, and as a receptionist. An opportunity came for her to enroll at New York University, and she later enjoyed a 25 year career on Wall Street, serving in the customer service field for financial printers. She enjoyed hosting several exchange students during her years in New York, mostly from Japan, Germany and England.
After 9/11 the industry changed and she made the decision to retire and move to Mandarin with her three children. Savlowitz has a dear niece in the Mandarin area and so she had fell in love with North Florida during trips down to visit. Savlowitz now also has five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. She has continued her education with a Certified Nursing Assistant certification and she is passionate about working with elderly in the area. Savlowitz shares a close bond with her children. They love and admire their mother for her profound strength, integrity, selflessness, and adventurous spirit.
- What do you enjoy most about living in Mandarin?
Everything is so convenient. Everything I need is right here. Shopping, my family, friends, and church are all so close by.
- What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
To be brought up from where I was and to have gotten as far in life as I have. Also, being a mother. I have really been blessed.
- How did you realize you had such a passion for working with the elderly?
I volunteered at Memorial Hospital and I walked across the street to the nursing home and asked if I could sit and talk with someone that never had many visitors. I routinely visited four ladies often and even spent special days like Mother’s Day with them, until each one passed away. I just loved it and then started spending time at The Coves at River Garden. I offer special care for seniors and transportation services. I enjoy every minute of it.
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love to travel. I’ve been to at least 12 countries and formed close friendships all over the world. Germany is still my favorite. I went during Octoberfest one year and about lost my mind. I ended up extending my four week trip to six weeks and I almost lost my job because of it. I celebrate life and all its special moments. I throw myself a nice birthday party every year and my last one at 78 was no exception. I love spending time with my family and friends. You can find me listening to Frank Sinatra often. My favorite song is “My Way.” I also enjoy serving as a zone leader in my church.
- What is your secret for staying so young, both at heart and in appearance?
The grace of God is my strength. I love life and I live it to the fullest. No regrets. I’ve told myself that when I turn 80 years old, I’m going skydiving. I think I’m going to make that appointment.
Photo by Angela Higginbotham