Pryharski celebrates 100 years of faith and family

Pryharski celebrates 100 years of faith and family

Florence Pryharski of North Smithfield, front center, celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday with family, including, from top left, her grandson, Timothy Wollen, grandson, Matthew Wollen, great-granddaughter, Natalia Wollen, nephew, Joe Trepanier; from bottom left, granddaughter, Laurie Skwirz, and daughter, Michele Wollen. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Florence Pryharski celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday with family and friends at the Deerfield Commons apartments on St. Paul Street.

Pryharski was born on Dec. 8, 1919. She grew up in Woonsocket, the youngest of three children of John and Malvina Trepanier. Her father owned a package store on 1st Avenue, the first in the city to open after Prohibition was lifted in 1933, she said. At the time, Fairmount was a bustling Irish neighborhood in a largely French-speaking city.

“It was lovely. Friendly people, and every mill was running,” she recalled.

She met her husband, Michael, at a dance hall back when young people used to frequent the St. James and Blackstone Hotels. They married on May 3, 1941, but he died several years later. She had two daughters, four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Her family was there to celebrate with her on Sunday.

She worked several jobs, including as a receptionist for an eye doctor and at the state employment agency on Pond Street. After retiring in 1983, she traveled extensively, visiting Italy, France and Germany among her favorite destinations. Many of the trips, she said, were with her nephew, the Rev. Thomas Trepanier, who served as a priest for the Diocese of Providence.

“When he would go for a seminar at the Vatican, I would go, too,” she said.

Pryharski has remained close to her faith throughout her life, attending several parishes and always staying active in the church. She was the first woman to serve as Eucharistic minister at Holy Family Church and later attended St. Ambrose Church, where her nephew served as pastor.

On Sunday, her family surprised her with a birthday party in the common room at Deerfield Commons. More than 60 family members and friends attended, including some who traveled from Oklahoma for the occasion.

“It was beautiful. It was a surprise I never expected,” she said.

Pryharski often goes out for lunch or to run errands with family and is a faithful pitch and cribbage player. While there’s no secret to her good health, she said, it doesn’t hurt to remember to pray and always keep a positive outlook on life.

“I just say, have faith and pray, and it will be answered,” she said.