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Senior Center Founding Member Celebrates 100th Birthday

She was honored by her Bradley Gardens church.

She is the last surviving founding charter member of the Bridgewater senior center—and last week, Wilhermina Lugo turned 100 years old.

A special mass was held celebrating Lugo’s birthday at her home in Bradley Gardens Jan. 7, and officiated by her son, Rev. Joseph Lugo, Jr.

“I’m proud to be her son, she’s a wonderful mother and a very caring person,” Joseph Lugo said. “She always wanted to reach 100, she really pushed herself to reach it and she did.”

Wilhermina Lugo, known by her friends as Willy, was one of the founding members of the senior group when there were only 12 people wanting to be part.

“Now there are over 200,” Joseph Lugo said.

The members started at a church on Route 28 in Somerville, Lugo said, and they moved around to many other locations until the actual senior center, on Somerville Road was built.

“It meant a lot because she saw it grow from nothing to what it is today,” he said. “She used to go back there until she was about 85, volunteering until then.”

Moving to Bridgewater in the 1940s, Lugo said his mother was a very charitable woman, and volunteered for the American Red Cross and the local Rescue Squad Auxiliary. And, Lugo said, his mother ran bus trips to Atlantic City when the senior center first opened.

Lugo said his mother had friends in Somerville, so she relocated from New York City to be closer to them.

“She liked it then better than now,” he said. “She said it is too crowded now. Back then, Bridgewater was a very rural place. Route 22 had a grass median, and she’s seen it grow.”

At the Church of the Holy Trinity, in Bradley Gardens, Wilhermina Lugo served as a member of the Alter Rosary Society, the Parish Advisory Council and is the last surviving charter member of the Senior Citizens ministry.

Now in hospice care, Wilhermina Lugo was honored by many for her 100th birthday, and received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Benedict XVI, as well as special greetings from Gov. Chris Christie and messages from the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes.

“The governor sent her a congratulatory letter because she was a representative of seniors and went to the state house to rally for senior causes,” Joseph Lugo said.

She also, Lugo said, received 12 vases with flowers from all over the country, and people called all day on her birthday to wish her well, while also stopping by to see her.

“She was truly a Christian lady, always did things without adulation,” Joseph Lugo said. “She was a very generous person, always giving.”

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