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Happy birthday to Joe (108) and Winnie (107)

Winnie Murphy celebrates her 107th birthday at the Leonard Florence Center in Chelsea. Sharon Loveridge
Joe Bach laughs as he opens one of his presents.Sharon Loveridge

The Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea recently held a birthday party for two residents who were born before the outbreak of World War I.

Joe Bach turned 108 on Nov. 4, while Winnie Murphy turned 107 Nov. 13. Friends, family members, and staff took part in the joint party, held on Nov. 6.

Bach, a Holocaust survivor and native of Lvov, Poland, worked at the MGM studios in Lvov as a young man and later became a doctor. During World War II, he survived three years in a Soviet gulag, where he had been sent as a suspected spy.


The only member of his family to survive the war, he later immigrated to this country, where he worked in sales and owned a grocery store. He and his wife, Irene, 92, have two daughters, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Growing up with her parents and 10 siblings in Bretton Woods, N.H., Murphy later moved with her family to Maine and then Saugus, where they settled. Considered a “flapper” in the 1920s, Murphy married and went on to have three children and three grandchildren.

Both Bach and Murphy remain active at the center, where Bach enjoys musical events and Murphy attends monthly pub hours, participates in daily exercise classes, and plays bingo.

John Laidler can be reached at