Happy 100th birthday to South Lake Tahoe woman
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Erna Beglau became Barton’s Skilled Nursing Center’s first 100-year-old resident on Wednesday.
“I don’t know anyone in this room who’s sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to a 100-year-old before,” said a Barton employee.
Beglau might not be the only one in the 100-year club for long – Skilled Nursing Center resident Helen Wyant, 99, will have her birthday in August.
Wyant attended Beglau’s party and wished her a happy birthday.
Many friends and family members attended Beglau’s birthday, and so did hospital staff members.
Beglau’s daughter, Lydia Greil, baked a cake, and long-time South Shore residents brought her flowers and cards. Greil helped her mother open the gifts and read the cards.
“Erna knows what she wants, and she’s not afraid to tell you,” said Maureen Cooper, resident relations coordinator. “She knows because she’s been around for a 100 years.”
Before Beglau lived in South Lake Tahoe, she started her life in Odessa, Ukraine in 1909, Greil said.
She was a talented singer and performed in the opera, but her mother wanted her to learn a trade, so Beglau became a seamstress.
She married in 1931, and gave birth to her daughter, Lydia, in October 1932. Her husband was killed during World War II.
Both Beglau and Greil sang in the opera in Odessa, but they didn’t stay in the country for long, Greil said.
They met a German soldier during World War II who informed them that a raid was planned at the opera, and everyone taken would be killed, Greil said. He helped them escape to Ulm, Germany, where his wife and children were. It took them six months to travel from Ukraine to Germany.
Beglau and her daughter arrived in Ulm in June 1944, but they soon had to flee to Bad Homburg, Germany, after the city was bombed in December 1944, Greil said.
Eventually she moved to Lake Tahoe in 1958, and Greil followed. She became an American citizen in 1964. She worked at Cosby and Mullen Men’s Store as a seamstress, and then at Bobby Page’s Cleaners.
During that time she had many celebrity clients, such as Bill Cosby, Elvis, Sammy Davis Jr. and Perry Como, just to name a few, Greil said.
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