On July 23, Life Care Center of Ocala, Florida, celebrated resident Clara Walsh’s 105th birthday.
Walsh was surrounded by friends and family members who were delighted to celebrate such a big milestone in her life. This birthday, Walsh shared, was “great” and it encompassed some of her favorites, including a lemon cake, a theme of yellow and blue and even a crown for the birthday queen.
When asked her best advice for a long life, Walsh said, “I’ve never been married, nor do I have children. I have never drunk or smoked. I come from good genes, but most of all I have faith!”
Walsh’s journey began outside of Yonkers, New York, in 1911. Her father was a security guard, her mother was from Cuba and Walsh had 10 siblings.
In her younger days, Walsh attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church and school, graduating in 1928. That same year, Walsh began her first job working for the New York Telephone Company, where she became a switchboard operator that handled most of the long distance phone calls.
By 1949, operators were not needed as much, so Walsh was reassigned. She remained at The Bell System, now known as AT&T, until 1976.
Walsh has served in many different careers over her lifetime. She worked for the military serving in telecommunications in Washington D.C. during World War II. Walsh also worked for six years at Yonkers General Hospital with the Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Volunteer group.
Now, Walsh lives happily at Life Care Center of Ocala and is a member of a local chapter of the Telephone Pioneers of America Life Members Club. Several of the members attended Walsh’s birthday party to enjoy her special milestone and also reminisce about the early days of telecommunications, reflecting on how the industry has gone from long-distance operators to cell phones.
“The [cell] phones that everyone carries now are amazing,” said Walsh. “They can do everything. So much technology, and it fits in your pocket.”