NISKAYUNA – Teacher, mathematician, female trailblazer and world traveler, Schenectady’s Alberta Peroutky celebrates her 105th birthday this weekend.
Peroutky turns 105 November 6. She says she’s been asked many times, but explained there is no secret to living the long, full life she’s led.
“I really have no answer, there’s no secret,” Peroutky said Wednesday. ”Good healthy living, I guess just enjoying what I was doing all through life as far as I can see in this small community. We were very active participants in the community, I just blossomed I guess. My heart just keeps going and so does my mind.”
Alberta Peroutky was born and raised in Susquehanna Pennsylvania, just south of Binghamton New York, and was the oldest of three children.
“To me, as I look back, it was a great time growing up,” Peroutky said. “It was in the age of the birth of the airplane, radio, television. I can remember as a family, after dinner it was great to sit and listen with the earphones to Amos ‘n’ Andy on the radio.”
Peroutky attended high school in Susquehanna, in a the one-building-school. She graduated high school in 1934 in a class of 13, with seven boys and six girls, she said. She went on to attend Bloomberg College, a state school in Pennsylvania, and graduated in 1938.
“At that time it was hard for me to get a job, I was a mathematician, I studied math in college,” Peroutky said. “I go to apply for a job, and no, a man was always what they wanted at that time. Girls didn’t teach mathematics, so I went back and did my graduate work at Bucknell University.”
Peroutky taught for two years in Thompson PA at a school which was built to teach children from a number of surrounding communities.
“I think all the time I was teaching, although I kind of enjoyed it, I seemed to enjoy doing math myself,” Peroutky said.
Peroutky came to Schenectady in 1942 to visit a friend during summer break from teaching.
“While I was here visiting, there was a big ad in The Gazette, requesting girls with mathematics to come to work at GE,” Peroutky said. “I thought i’d go down to GE and see what it was like. I was interviewed by Dr. Boring, he said ‘can you come to work on Monday,’ just like that very quick.”
Peroutky got out of the teaching contract she had signed for the following year, and moved to Schenectady to work at General Electric.
“I was one of eight girls at GE who was in what they call ‘the girls engineering group,’” Peroutky said. For half a year we took classes, RPI instructors came to a room and taught us in GE. We were given studies on basic engineering to be able to work with the engineers.”
Peroutky worked at General Electric until 1948, when she met her future husband Donald Peroutky who also worked in the research center at General Electric.
Alberta and Donald had two children, James and Betty, and eventually five grand-children. Alberta became a stay-at-home mom after her children were born. The family loved to travel, and saw all 50 states, Alberta said.
“We bought a little pop-up trailer and we toured all around the united states in this little tailor,”Alberta said. “The greatest thrill of our life, with this little trailer and two children, was driving to Alaska. My husband had a four weeks vacation and we drove up to Alaska and saw everything.”
Alberta worked as a substitute teacher for the Niskayuna school district for a short time after her children were in school.
The children grew up and went off to college, James now lives in Hudson Ohio and Betty lives in Hardwick New Jersey, Alberta said.
“I’m a great Syracuse fan,” Alberta said. “My son did his graduate studies at Syracuse, and that’s where I got my great interest. We used to go to the basketball games and the football games. That interest has continued. I still watch them every Saturday, basketball will be starting soon.”
Donald retired General Electric in the late 1960s and Alberta and he began to do a lot of traveling overseas. They went to Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Greece, Africa and many other places, Alberta said.
“I think overseas, one of my favorites was when we were in Africa, in Giza,” Alberta said. “We were up where the pyramids are, and the Sphinx. We had a ride down the Nile River, we stopped along the way at King Tuts Tomb. Travel was one of the great parts of my life.”
Donald passed away in 2000, Alberta said. She lived in their home in Schenectady for nine more years before moving to Glen Eddy in 2009.
Alberta learned to play bridge in college, she said she became a “great bridge player,” and continued to play when she moved to Glen Eddy. Alberta said she can still play bingo, and mahjong. She enjoys reading mystery novels and biographies
Alberta is surrounded by friends at Glen Eddy. Coming into the building lobby after speaking with reporters this week, Alberta had a crowd of friends waiting to ask her about it.
“I enjoy my life, I enjoy meeting new people, I enjoy reading,” Alberta said. “I enjoyed the traveling that we did, getting to see various places in the United States and overseas.”
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Email Newsletter, News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
One of our heroes. But it would’ve been timely to get her views on education and educating, and thoughts on how to address some of the profound challenges our education system are facing.
Great story, thanks.