Reith Gordon, a very funny lady, who turned 95 this month has been exercising at the Madison Area YMCA for 18 years where she has met many good friends at her Monday and Wednesday senior classes.

“For a long time, I had been hiding my age,” Reith says, chatting after her chair yoga class recently in December. “Then I heard someone in class say she was 99, so I decided to tell people how old I was. My daughter said: ‘Believe me—they all knew your age anyway,’” Reith says with a laugh.

“Exercise has been really good for me,” Reith says. “I think it has kept me alive. I think if I was home doing nothing, I wouldn’t be here anymore. Using the body and brain—it does help,” she says, adding “My workout friends at the Y have been instrumental in keeping me going. I’m thankful for their friendship and support.”

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Reith also shares friendships with members of the Y’s Welcome Center. With a grin, her wry sense of humor on full display, Reith says, “You know, they love me at the desk. I bring them cookies every Christmas!” Turning serious, she then says, “I’m really good friends with some of them at the desk—especially Cathy Landolfi.” 

Cathy, the Y’s Welcome Center supervisor agrees, noting that she and Reith have a great friendship and always look forward to seeing each other as they share fun banter. 

Born in Jamaica, Reith emigrated to the New York City area in 1941 and was dazzled—she saw snow for the first time, marveled at the lights and skyscrapers and tried pizza. Settling into her new life, Reith worked as a bookkeeper for 25 years at Union Carbide Corporation, now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company, and lived in Brooklyn and Brewster, NY. 

After retiring, she relocated to Madison to help care for her granddaughter, whom she is very close with. A 20-year-old junior at the University of Maryland, Reith declares, “Nicole keeps me in style.” And the family has made her a world traveler. Reith’s daughter and son-in-law take her wherever they go: London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona and Madrid are just a few of the places she’s visited.

What is Reith doing for Christmas? She will visit with her daughter’s family. “I do the cooking—turkey, ham, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, mac and cheese…but they know: I don’t clean up!”

At the close of the chat, when asked if she needs help getting to her next destination, Reith replies deadpan, “What do you think I am, an old lady?”