Photo Credits: Allyse Pulliam/The Times Herald-Record

By: Samantha Smith

A reporter from Times-Herald Record recently interviewed a local Newburgh woman, Jennie DeJesus, who is planning to celebrate her 107th birthday very soon. Born in 1915 in Puerto Rico, she came to New York City by ‘tourism ship’ when she was 12 years old. Not only did she outlive her husband, all 12 of her siblings and two of her children, but she’s made it healthily through the Great Depression, two World Wars and two pandemics. She attributes her longevity to putting ‘God First’ and  always eating healthy. 

Although the pandemic has prevented the DeJesus’ from having their typical big family gatherings and parties, she continues to keep in touch with her three children, 10 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great grandchildren. But, over the past couple of years it has become increasingly difficult to speak with DeJesus due to her worsening dementia. 

This prevents DeJesus from recalling all details of the history she’s lived through, but notes that the Great Depression “was a sad time” and that many experienced food shortages. Her daughter Mojica expressed for her mother that, “She says you feel kind of like when it’s time to eat and you have no food. She said the government started to help so people wouldn’t have to suffer.” 

In 2001, Jennie DeJesus was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 86. But she successfully beat it with the assistance and support of two amazing doctors. So as of today, she lives an overall healthy, youthful life, spending time with dozens of family members and her 84-year-old son Rueben who comes to visit from the nursing home. 

“She knew him for just a moment,” commented Mojica. “They embraced with the masks on and I think seven minutes later she didn’t know he was, though he continued to talk to her.”

When it comes to her physical health, the doctors say she is as healthy as could be. Her heart and blood pressure are perfectly stable and in range, and to top it all off she only takes one prescription medication prescribed for her thyroid. 

Everyone is glad to know Evangelista “Jennie” Benejan Y Gomez DeJesus. Her family accredits her long life to her way of living, but Jennie believes it’s family just as much as intaking good foods and having a connection to God.