Zelda Kivitz, a centenarian with the spunk and spirit of the entertainer she proved to be with her renditions of long-ago popular tunes, died Nov. 29.
The former Zelda Abeshaus was 101 years old.
She enjoyed trying new things, relates her daughter, Carol Cohen. Ever hear of Bowling With Bubby? It was a video made of Kivitz’s “early” conquests.
“Her wish for her 76th birthday was to go bowling as she had never gone,” recalls Cohen.
She got her wish. And? “She beat everyone.”
On the advent of her centennial, this singing survivor of the Great Depression put smiles on the faces of those attending three functions marking her birthday: at Main Line Reform Temple, Maggio’s Restaurant and at Willow Lake Resident Care, where she was living at the time.
Indeed, according to her daughter, this independent spirit, who was apt to serenade those around her wherever she was, lived on her own until age 92.
Her whole life was filled with music and being a mensch: “Jewelry and fancy clothes weren’t her,” recalls her daughter.
But knowing the value of a good deal was. She was always taking a bus to stores, even in her 90s, armed with an armada of coupons to find good sales, says Cohen.
“The bus driver,” says her daughter, “would stop the bus, take the shopping bags for her and help her get across the street.”
She could stop others in their tracks with her singing talents. “She loved to sing,” says Cohen, and she had a song in her heart for her country. “She always sang patriotic songs.”
Indeed, Kivitz’s rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner — one of her favorites — was in a way her own anthem. When she sang it at Maggio’s on her 100th birthday, “everyone stopped to listen: the cooks, the waitresses, patrons. And they all had tears in their eyes,” recalls her daughter.
Kivitz is also survived by daughter Franne Tave; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.