WEST ISLIP, NY — West Islip resident Fay Otranto may have turned 104th birthday on Thursday, but her spirit is that of a much younger woman.
Otranto has always been active, even as she got older. She was independent for most of her life, driving until she hit her 90s and living on her own for a few years until she reached 100. In her younger days, she enjoyed playing tennis, skating and bicycle riding.
As she got older, she still stayed active by dancing until she broke her hip at 103. One night while staying with her daughter, she fell while walking around the house and underwent an operation at Good Samaritan Medical Hospital. She never let that stop her from dancing.
Her daughter, Janet, said it was a "miracle" her mother felt almost no pain and was able to walk shortly after. After surgery, Otranto was taken to Momentum at South Bay for Rehabilitation and Nursing in East Islip, where she spent three months undergoing physical therapy. While in rehab, she learned to dance the cha-cha and was a model for younger patients.
"She's pretty resilient; I'm really proud of her," Janet told Patch.
Photo courtesy of Janet Otranto
Otranto has always been popular, finding friends where ever she went. She was born in Brooklyn in 1916. After raising her two kids, Janet and John Otranto, Fay moved to Cape Coral, Florida, where she lived with her husband, Louis, for many years. When her husband died at 94, Fay lived alone until Janet convinced her to move to Long Island four years ago. Once she moved to West Islip, she joined the local senior center, quickly making another group of close friends.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Otranto has kept busy with a new hobby she never tried before — making art.
"I never thought I would do all this art and I surprised myself," she said. "When I see all the drawings I did, I can't believe it's me."
Otranto is one of the few who have lived through both of the most recent pandemic in United Sates history, although this pandemic was a far contrast from the Spanish flu pandemic, during which she was just a young girl. In addition, she has lived through several other historic moments, some good and some bad. But she takes them all in stride.
"She doesn't really dwell on the sad things that have happened to her," Janet said. "She is the kind of person that is always looking to make friends, try new things and be happy."
While she said she wishes the pandemic will end but is still keeping a positive attitude.
"I'm very lucky because while I'm handicapped, I make myself happy," Fay said.
For her birthday, Legislator Steven J. Flotteron surprised Fay along with friends and family who gathered at the West Islip home to celebrate the milestone. He presented her with a special proclamation.
Photo courtesy of Legislator Steven J. Flotteron