Former Army nurse celebrates 100th birthday in West Islip

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A former Army nurse received a huge surprise party for her 100th birthday.

Family, friends and neighbors packed the West Islip Fire House to throw Estelle Kaczanowski a party.

"I'm greatly honored. I know many of these from the time they were infants and youngsters," says Kaczanowski.

Kaczanowski graduated Babylon High School in 1937 and became a nurse. She worked at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore in the 1940s, then joined the Army to serve as a nurse in World War II. She then worked in hospitals until she retired in 1981.

Kaczanowski's next door neighbor is the former West Islip fire chief and organized the birthday surprise.

"I hope I make it to 100, even close to that. And for someone who is 100 and still walking around like that, it's a great deal so I said we got to do something," says Robert Bilella, former fire chief.

News 12 asked Kaczanowski to share some of her secrets about living a long and happy life.

"Salads and all that green stuff. Not too much, no fatty foods. I try to avoid that. And I'm active," Kaczanowski said.

Earlier this week, the staff at her former hospital had a celebration for her too.

"This is the first time in my history that I've been able to honor somebody who not only served as a nurse, but she served our country," says Ralph Jay Civello, of Southsie Hospital.

Kaczanowski was honorably discharged from the Army in 1947. She also worked in the newborn nursery program at Good Samaritan Hospital from 1959 to 1981.

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