It’s not often you get to celebrate a milestone. Over the weekend Jack Stollak celebrated his 103rd birthday at Brandywine Living at The Savoy in Little Neck with his favorite, lox and bagels, birthday cake, and a poker game with his friends.
Stollak was born on July 9, 1919. He grew up the son of Polish immigrants, who moved into a place on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where he lived with two brothers and one sister.
He is a World War II veteran, who spent four years in the U.S. Army fighting the Axis forces in the Atlantic theater. Upon his return, Stollak received several medals honoring him for his service as a sergeant.
During his time in the military, while stationed in London, he tried to locate his father’s sister, Rose Miller, at an address he had been given. But when he got there, he found the location was converted into a factory.
Stollack said he then went across the street, asking one of the neighbors if she remembered anyone who had lived there. The neighbor sent him to a Rabbi, who he said had a small congregation of people, but recalled that she had moved away. Then the Rabbi’s daughter walks in and says that she had recently seen her on the bus. From there he went to a local butcher who remembered her and said she was a customer of his. The butcher then took him to an old house, where he finally found his aunt.
“I’m your brother’s son,” he said.
While his family moved to the U.S. in the early 20th century, several members of his family moved to London while others moved to Israel.
Then in 1948, he married his wife of 73 years, Eva, and the two of them went on to settle down in a home in Maspeth. Stollack recalls that his wife had made her wedding gown out of French silk, which he had been given as a souvenir from his colonel after raiding a German silk factory.
Together they went on to have three children, Lynne, Ira, and David—who passed away at the age of 63.
Stollak is also an avid baseball fan, particularly the New York Yankees. One of his fondest memories was meeting Babe Ruth when he was a child.
“Babe used to come by the stadium in a roadster and he liked kids so he was very willing to say ‘hi’ and give autographs,” Stollack said. “I was so excited to get his autograph that I picked up a piece of paper off the ground and handed it to Babe. Babe from the side of his mouth said, ‘Get a clean piece of paper kid!’ I got a clean paper from another boy and got Babe’s autograph.”
Jack and Eva enjoyed going on cruises. For their 50th wedding anniversary, they renewed their vows on an Alaskan cruise ship.
After they retired to Florida, his wife had missed the Big Apple so much that they moved into Brandywine Living at the Savoy in 2015.
Sadly, Jack lost the love of his life two years ago, in 2020, but he still keeps her close to his heart, adding that his 73 years of marriage was one of his greatest accomplishments.
Today, Stollak still remains active and engaged with his friends through musical entertainment and poker games. His friends say he has a great sense of humor and is always telling jokes or witty stories.
“My doctor told me I’m the healthiest 103-year-old he’s ever seen,” Jack said. “He said I was the healthiest—not the smartest!”