Woman who lost mom to Spanish flu, has virtual 103rd birthday amid COVID-19

A Vineland woman just celebrated her 103rd birthday. And in the days of COVID-19, her family found a creative way to celebrate the big day.

Irene Jacobson's family practiced social distancing while singing her "Happy Birthday," celebrating old traditions in new ways this year.

"Oh, it's something to see all the people here, look at all the faces," says Jacobson while participating in her virtual birthday celebration online.

"We did a zoom conference," says Jacobson's oldest daughter, Lois-Anne Weiner. "She just couldn't take her eyes off the screen. She was so excited."

"I was thrilled with it," Jacobson explained. "To see them all at one time, it was wonderful."

Jacobson was born in Boston in 1917 and lost her mother to the flu pandemic more than a century ago.

"My mother died in 1918 and that changed a lot of things," says Jacobson. "I was raised by an aunt and an uncle."

She met her husband, Simon, on a blind date and they married in 1939.

"It was love at first sight!" Jacobson exclaimed. "That was the happiest time of my life, when I got married, and my children were wonderful."

She has three children, eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild and all helped mark her big day.

Weiner, Jacobson's daughter, says, "Mom was always a role model. She's such a positive person. She's a giver."

She worked on an early campaign for John F. Kennedy, volunteered with Israeli soldiers and donated her time to a local senior center up until the age of 98.

"For years I was volunteering," Jacobson said. Her grandson, Jody Weiner, explained, "to this day we try and follow her lead. She impresses us all."

"We know how wonderful she is and how much she's enriched our lives," said Jacobson's daughter.

Jacobson's grandson added, "She's definitely the bond that keeps us together."

Jacobson expressed gratitude for her special birthday.

"It was wonderful seeing all the children and grandchildren. I'm just fortunate and God blessed me."
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