Katie Sedgeman can tell you all about the Roaring ’20s, but not secondhand from DVDs or TV.
The Freedom Village resident, who turns 105 on Wednesday, lived in that period of flappers, jazz music and the jitterbug and has a brain still sharp enough to recall vivid details.
I feel lucky to have had such a fabulous life.
Katie Sedgeman, on turning 105
Born Aug. 30, 1912, the remarkable Sedgeman is still living independently at Freedom Village, 6406 21st Ave. W., Bradenton, and will celebrate her birthday Wednesday with a bash expected to draw a crowd of more than 200 to the retirement community.
“She’s amazing,” said Katie Penta, a Freedom Village employee. “She’s always busy. I can barely keep up with her.”
Sedgeman only takes two pills, one to keep her heartbeat regular and one for blood pressure. Eyesight and hearing are the only aspects of her physical self that have let her down a bit. She no longer drives, and she is not the swimmer and golfer she once was, but remains an avid bridge player at Freedom Village and can also be found rooting for her favorite sports teams on TV and doing puzzles.
“She plays in many bridge groups, and they can’t get over her age,” Penta said. “She lives on her own here, as all our independent residents do. She gets a free meal a day, but otherwise prepares her own meals.”
Sedgeman, who has lived at Freedom Village for 26 years, was watching the Tampa Bay Rays play the Toronto Blue Jays on her TV on Thursday.
“I also follow the Tampa Bay Bucs and University of Michigan football,” said Sedgeman who has been to the “Big House” stadium during Ohio State vs. Michigan games.
Sedgeman attributes her longevity and “fit as a fiddle” 105-year-old body and mind to eating healthy, lots of exercise and never smoking.
She eats light and stays away from sweets.
“I am blessed to have wonderful children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many good friends,” Sedgeman said on the eve of her 105th.
An Ohio native
Sedgeman was born in Toledo, Ohio, and grew up there, an only child.
“My father owned a distributing company in Toledo,” Sedgeman said. “I loved going to movies in the 1920s and 1930s and sometimes would stay in the theater and watch the film twice in a row.”
Sedgeman remembers the stock market crash of 1929 and how the Great Depression affected her friends, family and fellow Toledo residents.
“I remember going downtown with my mother and everyone we met was crying,” Sedgeman recalls. “A neighbor of ours committed suicide at the time, and the father of a friend of mine jumped out of a window of a tall building.”
Her grandfather was a banker and his was one of the only banks in Toledo that remained open, she said.
She’s amazing. She’s always busy. I can barely keep up with her.
Katie Penta on Katie Sedgeman, who turns 105 on Wednesday
Sedgeman graduated from Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo and later went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Her college roommate once got the two of them invited on a cruise to Greece on a rented yacht and Sedgeman met Amy Vanderbilt.
“It was quite overwhelming to be in such prestigious company,” she said of meeting Vanderbilt and the Pratts of Standard Oil.
Two years after graduating from Vassar, she met William H. Sedgeman who had graduated from Harvard Business School. They were married for more than 50 years before he died. William Sedgeman worked for Owens Corning Fiber Glass for 42 years.
Her most treasured memories
“On our 25th anniversary we traveled to Europe, stayed at the Ritz in London, Paris and Madrid, went to Milan and Lake Como where we stayed at the beautiful Villa d’Este with a view of the snow-capped Alps,” Sedgeman recalled.
When she attended her 75th class reunion at Vassar, only three showed up.
“We had a standing ovation in the chapel and we were cheered all the way out to the field house,” she said.
She also once danced with Cary Grant at a fundraiser.
“I feel lucky to have had such a fabulous life,” she said with a gleam in her eyes that seemed to indicate she wasn’t finished making memories.