Virginia “Ginie” Dowe Cherepy recently celebrated her 103rd birthday at Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice. Cherepy, currently a resident at Valley View Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Newton, NJ, was born May 31, 1919, in Bloomfield, NJ, to Karl A. Dowe and Violet M. Search.
Her mother was a professional nurse while her dad played the piano for silent movies at Franklin Theater and other theaters. Mr. Dowe also had an orchestra, gave music lessons, and owned a music store in Summit, NJ. An only child, Cherepy, grew up with aunts around her age and considered them her sisters.
She also attended Ogdensburg Elementary School, where she was the valedictorian of the eighth-grade class, and then went on to graduate from Franklin High School in 1937 where she once again achieved the rank of valedictorian of her ninth-grade class.
Cherepy worked as a secretary for several businesses, including the New Jersey Zinc Company in Franklin from 1937 to 1943, as well as the Virginia Electric & Power Company, Tong Sol Electric Inc. N.J., TWA; Fluid Chemical Co., Interpace and Picatinny, where she retired from on October 2, 1987, after 14 years of employment.
On November 19, 1943, she married Coloman Cherepy, a U.S. Army veteran, in Bell Air, Md., a marriage that lasted for 56 years until he died on May 10, 1999, at the age of 83. While they were unable to have children, Cherepy has many nieces and nephews.
When asked about her hobbies and interests, she said that she likes ice skating, roller skating, sports, reading, card games, baseball and football games, movies, piano playing, and bingo, but added enthusiastically, “I love to travel and shop!”
“When Coloman was employed at Reaction Motors & Thiokol Chemical Company as a service representative and sent to Germany, we enjoyed traveling in France, Germany, and Italy. In Paris, France, we went to our first huge flea market, and we ate at the famous Maxim’s Restaurant,” said Virginia. “In Rome, Italy, while at an audience with the Pope, we were so close to him that we could almost touch him. In Munich, Germany, we went to Oktoberfest. Also because of Coloman’ s work, we traveled all over the United States of America including Fla., Miss., Va., Del., Mo., N.J., and Calif.”
Cherepy is also a longtime member of the Berkshire Valley Presbyterian Church. “I joined the church when Pastor Dana was there,” she added. At the church she served in many roles, including typing the weekly bulletin and running it off on a mimeograph machine, serving twice as church Elder, assisting with rummage sales and tail gate sales.
“I made a Samaritan’s purse, knitted for the needy and for many years I sang in the choir,” said Cherepy.
Another one of her many accomplishments is being named an honorary member of the American Legion Post #132 in Franklin, and a lifetime member of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.
On her birthday, Cherepy received a congratulatory phone call from Governor Philip Murphy, who also sent a congratulatory letter to be presented to Cherepy that stated, “Through life’s trial and challenges, you have always persevered and maintained your integrity. It is because of your unbreakable spirit that you have become such a strong pillar for both your family and your community. On this day, all those you have touched throughout your life come together to celebrate you for your commitment and dedication.”