Yetta Pomerantz, of Farmington Hills, celebrates her 100th birthday Nov. 24 with family.

Yetta Pomerantz, of Farmington Hills, celebrates her 100th birthday Nov. 24 with family.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Farmington Hills woman celebrates 100th birthday

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published December 4, 2019

 Pomerantz holds up a photo of herself taken after high school graduation.

Pomerantz holds up a photo of herself taken after high school graduation.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Making it to 100 years old is a cause for celebration for anyone, but it’s especially notable if you’re the first person in your family’s history to live that long.

That’s the case for local Farmington Hills resident Yetta Pomerantz, who celebrated her 100th birthday Nov. 24 with her family. She said she’s amazed to have made it this far in life and blessed to have the family and friends she’s had over her lifetime.

“I never thought I’d ever reach this number because nobody in my family has,” she said. “I had two brothers who lived until their middle 90s, but nobody reached anywhere near this in my family. I feel very privileged.”

Pomerantz credits good genes and her participation in athletics through her younger years as two of the main reasons for her longevity.

Born and raised in Detroit by Russian immigrant parents, Pomerantz grew up during Prohibition and the Great Depression. She graduated from Cass Tech High School in Detroit, where she participated in track, tennis and swimming, before attending Wayne State University for a year. Pomerantz is the only one of her five siblings to graduate from high school.

After a year at college, Pomerantz transferred to secretary school, later earning a job as a secretary for the Tank Arsenal Department during World War II.

She spent her early adult life as a secretary, met her husband at age 19 and married at age 22. While her husband served in the war, she contributed to the war effort through her work with the government.

Eventually, Pomerantz left her job as a secretary and settled into her role as a wife in a patriarchal marriage that was common for the time. She and her husband built their first house together in Farmington Hills on an acre of land more than 60 years ago. She’s lived in Farmington Hills ever since.

For much of Pomerantz’s life, she battled with the idea of wanting to be married or having independence.

“I was able to go through spans where I didn’t know whether I wanted to stay married because I wanted to become an independent woman,” she said. “I felt I was partway there, but I never thought I’d get all the way there to the degree I wanted to.”

Pomerantz eventually divorced her late husband and regained the independence she desired. She used that independence to travel across the globe.

Pomerantz said some of her favorite places to visit were Australia, France, Israel and Ireland. She has spent the rest of her life primarily in Michigan. While others her age may start to migrate south to warmer weather, Pomerantz said she sticks around the Mitten State because she enjoys the snow and the change of seasons.

Throughout 100 years, a lot can change in a person’s life. The one constant for Pomerantz has been a lesson her mother instilled in her as a child: be kind.

“Just try to be yourself and nice to people. That, to me, is the most important thing,” she said. “Being nice to other people grants you and gives you the permission to have an association with another human being.”

The milestone of turning 100 also has an effect on the rest of Pomerantz’s family.

Pomerantz’s niece Susan Katz, 64, who flew in from Pennsylvania for the celebration, said seeing her aunt turn 100 reminds her that every birthday is a gift and that life isn’t promised.

“(Pomerantz) has always woken up enjoying what she’s going to do that day and connecting with family. She’s passed on the importance of family to me,” Katz said. “She’s taught me not every day is granted, to have an appreciation for today and every day, and when you get your birthday, it’s truly a gift.”

These days, Pomerantz spends most of her time in her den — her favorite room in the house — watching TV and relaxing with her dog. She said there’s not much else on her bucket list to complete besides enjoying every day and staying healthy.

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