By Andy Simek
MONTICELLO August 15, 2006 When you exaggerate someone elses age, you might say something like, Wow, that guys like 100 years old.
Max Gersten of Monticello, however, is no human hyperbole.
Gersten is officially, as of August 8, a centenarian.
Max hasnt allowed a century of living or even the loss of his sight to slow him down yet, and a party was held in celebration of this on Thursday at the Ted Stroebele Recreation Center in Monticello.
Over 80 people, including family, friends and local politicians, attended this celebration of Gerstens long and fruitful life.
The deputy mayor of Monticello, Victor Marinello, presented Max with a certificate for his work in the community.
Other awards were given to him by Town of Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini, who praised Gersten as a humanitarian, businessman, family man, and a gentleman. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther shared those sentiments.
Even President Bush sent a letter commending Gersten on his great accomplishment.
Many of Maxs friends, relatives and neighbors were there to celebrate as well, and some shared stories and memories of the good times they shared with him.
One of Gerstens four children, Jeffrey, said that everyone who knows him loves him, and he thanked his father for all the wonderful memories and fun times.
Despite his loss of vision, Jeffrey and Max still do crossword puzzles together and play hands of bridge, a game which Gersten is addicted to.
As Dorothy, his wife of 60 years, put it, Max is a truly remarkable man, a fact which neighbor David Kaplan would certainly agree with.
Max is one of the great treasures we have here in Monticello, he said, and added that if I meet him out on the streets, hell test me on things that happened over 60 years ago.
If I get to be his age, I hope I have half of his ability to recollect things that happened in this town so many years ago.
Former co-workers from the Gersten-Hillman Insurance Agency said how everyone at the office adored him and were very saddened when he had to leave.
Dorothy said that Max would still be working now if he hadnt lost his sight.
Gersten worked at the insurance firm until he was 89 years old and dedicated more than 50 years of service there.
Max himself said he was overwhelmed to have so many of my good friends here today.
He said that the secret to his happiness and his longevity was his loving wife, Dorothy.
The greatest thing that has ever happened to me, he said, was joining the Navy, which is where I met my wife.
I dont know what I would have done if I hadnt had her for all of these years.