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Around The Grange
Faith and flowers: 100-year-old cites 'him up there' for longevity

By April Rabkin, Journal Inquirer (12/10/04)

  DECEMBER 10, 2004 --

When asked the secret to her longevity, Sophia Gedrim, who turned 100 years old Thursday, pointed upward.

"Better ask him up there," she said.

Gedrim, a Democrat who was the town's first female state legislator -- she served three terms in the state House of Representatives beginning in the mid-1950s -- celebrated her birthday at a special Mass at Saint Catherine Church and a surprise party at the Park Hill senior housing complex.

Both Gov. M. Jodi. Rell and First Selectman Linda Roberts proclaimed Thursday "Sophia Gedrim Day."

In Gedrim's 100 years, she's experienced a lot of history.

During the 1960 race for president, Gedrim had the chance to sit with Jacqueline Kennedy during then-U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy's campaign visit to Hartford.

Locally, she may be just as famous for her award-winning gardening as she is for her public service.

In fact, she gives credit to the women of the East Windsor Garden Club for encouraging her to get into politics more than four decades ago.

For Gedrim the transition into politics came naturally since she was active and a leader in a dozen organizations in town, such as the East Windsor Grange, the Democratic Town Committee, her parish's Rosary Altar Society, and the Parent Teacher Association.

Well into her 90s she stayed active by continuing to maintain a flourishing garden.

"She raised dahlias the size of dinner plates," said Linda Sinsigallo, who serves on the Police Commission. "I think of her as the dahlia lady."

The field across from Gedrim's farmhouse was once filled with hundreds of dahlias.

"I had to make paths so people could look at them," Gedrim said. "Otherwise they would go through the middle and break them and you could hear, "crunch, crunch, crunch.'"

Roberts knows Gedrim as always being very outspoken and opinionated.

For instance, when Gedrim was in the hospital years ago, Roberts said, she called a cab and checked herself out.

"She's my hero," Roberts said. "She's done so much for her community."

These days, Gedrim maintains her self-reliance and creativity, living independently in an old farmhouse, assembling holiday bouquets, and knitting.

And she no longer talks politics as readily.

"Let's forget it," she said, when questioned by a reporter about her life in politics. "You're talking party lines."



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