Paragon Village Resident Celebrates Centenarian Birthday

By: Elise Phillips Margulis


Betty Branin of Paragon Village in Hackettstown just turned 100 years old. She’s lucid, healthy and cheerful. Everyone wants to know her secret to longevity, good health and a great attitude.


A lifelong Jersey resident, Branin was born in Dover and grew up in Stanhope. She has a son, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren who are ages two and eight. She also had a daughter who predeceased her.


After graduating from New Jersey State Teacher’s College in Trenton (now The College of New Jersey), Branin taught high school Health, Physical Education and Drivers Education for 20 years at DePaul Catholic School in Wayne. Her mother was a teacher as well. 


Although she was too modest to mention it, DePaul Catholic School honors a student each year with The Betty Branin Award for Physical Education.


Branin loved all sports and especially enjoyed swimming. It was her passion for swimming that led her to meeting her husband at Lake Musconetcong where his family had a summer home. They were 17 and 18 when they met. 


After they were married they moved to Packanack Lake in Wayne. Branin resided in towns with water bodies most of her life. Nature is good for the soul, and swimming must have contributed to her good health.


Branin, her husband and their children were all nature lovers. “We spent our summers swimming at Packanack Lake and enjoyed camping trips in Lake George, New York” (yet another lake in her life).


In addition to the camping trips, a favorite memory of hers is a seven-week trip to Europe that she and her husband took in the 1970s. Branin recalls, “My husband worked for Insley Construction Equipment, a company that manufactures materials used to build highways.” He traveled a lot for work and invited her along on that European business trip during which they visited several countries. She remembers her vacation very fondly. “It was wonderful to travel around Europe!”


Unfortunately, her husband passed away decades ago. He was a smoker and died of heart cancer. She beat the odds by surviving second-hand smoke at home and a smoke-filled teachers’ lounge for 20 years.


When asked for longevity advice, Branin said she “ate fruits and vegetables and enjoyed swimming and all sports.” She also “read a lot when her eyes were better and had German Shorthair Pointer dogs throughout her life.” 


In addition to her love of participating in athletics, Branin likes spectator sports. “I’m a huge fan of the New York Mets and the New Jersey Devils.”


Branin said she has been blessed with good health all her life. She uses a walker now but gets around well. Her mother lived to be 94, although her father passed away when he was 68.


These days her favorite outings are to the Budd Lake Diner and dining at Thiswilldous Eatery in Belvidere, NJ with her family.  


Even at the age of 100 she’s happy, healthy and an inspiration to those around her. She enjoys living in Paragon Village a great deal. “It’s the tops!” Branin exclaimed. She added, “Everyone is very friendly.” She’s a positive person and most likely has been one for the last century.

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