(Republished with permission from Mount Olive Life newspaper, July 2023. Read the story.)
Many people wonder what the secret to living a long life is. Is it healthy eating? Is it exercising every day? At a Netcong Borough Town Council meeting, Betty Curnow, of Netcong, said her secret to a long life is, “I mind my own business.” Curnow definitely knows something about living a long life. On June 3, she celebrated her 100th birthday.
A lifelong member of the Stanhope United Methodist Church and long-time member of the Eastern Star (Musconetcong), Curnow marked her 100 years with celebrations and a proclamation from the Borough of Netcong and a Joint Resolution of the State of New Jersey Senate and General Assembly recognizing her 100 years.
Curnow is a lifelong resident of Netcong. Her niece, Amanda Rush, of Netcong, shared that her aunt “was the youngest of six children ([the others being] Lester, Dorothy, Clarence, Jr., Lois, Marion) born to Clarence and Mary Eva McConnell O’Brien.” Rush also shared that her aunt met her future husband, the late William Curnow (of Mine Hill) while skating on Lake Musconetcong. Curnow said she was married on July 19, 1943. The wedding was at the Stanhope Methodist Church (now the Stanhope United Methodist church). She and her late husband raised two sons: Donald and Gary.
Also, Curnow is not the only one of the O’Brien children who hit 100. Her sister, the late Marion Rush, did as well.
As for Curnow’s interests, one of them is being a fan of the daytime drama, The Young and the Restless. This year, that show is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Curnow has been watching it since it began.
The church and her faith have always played an important part in Curnow’s life. Rush shared that her aunt “held various positions [at the Stanhope United Methodist Church]…communion steward, flower chairperson, member of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee….her most [important] longest contribution to the church was to the United Methodist Women (UMW) where she was the group’s treasurer.”
Besides positions at the church, Curnow also helped in a variety of other ways. Some examples include working as part of the United Methodist Women on blankets for Project Linus (blankets which go to pediatric cancer patients). Also, for many years, she made items for the Seaman’s Institute Ministry, a part of which supplies scarves, caps, etc. to those who work long-term on the seas serving in North American and international maritime communities.
When the church had a paper newsletter, Curnow worked on preparing the newsletters for mailing with other churches members including her late sister, Marion, and with niece Dorothy Barbato. Sharon Rosequist, of Netcong, noted that Curnow, along with members of Rosequist’s family, were Sunday School teachers back in the 1950s when Rosenquist was a girl. Recently, Curnow gave Rosequist a black and white picture from those Sunday School days.
Besides church, Rosequist and Curnow have another connection. Rosequist is the Right Worthy Associate Grand Matron of the Starlight Chapter #107 of the Eastern Star. Rosequist shared that Curnow has been a member of that organization for 53 years and that members of the Eastern Star visited Curnow to wish her a happy birthday just prior to reaching her 100-year mark.
A party for Curnow was held on her birthday with family and friends, which was followed a few days later by the presentation of the proclamation and resolution during a Netcong Borough Town Council meeting. Besides the things already mentioned, it was noted that Curnow was a member of the Musconetcong Foundry Society and had been a Boy Scout den mother, too.
Netcong Mayor Joseph Nametko presented Curnow with the proclamation from the town marking her 100 years, while New Jersey State Senator, Anthony Bucco, was on hand to present Curnow with a joint resolution of the State of New Jersey Senate and General Assembly. In addressing her, it was noted that Curnow seems younger than her 100 years. Bucco quipped that she shouldn’t show anyone her driver’s license because they’d never believe her age.
Speaking of driving, the mayor noted that Curnow still drives to borough hall to pay her taxes. Curnow replied that she’d actually just dropped off her water bill. Given her spirit, someone quipped that they may just find themselves meeting up again in the future to mark Curnow’s 110th birthday.
Photo: Betty Curnow received proclamations from the Borough of Netcong and the State of New Jersey recognizing her 100 years.