Morris Paiewonsky marks his 100th with a party -- and a day at work

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ST. THOMAS - Morris Paiewonsky, who was born in 1911, still works every day and does not plan to retire.

"I enjoy it," he told The Daily News. "It keeps me occupied doing something. I should be retired, but it's a simple situation."

Paiewonsky is the cousin of Ralph Paiewonsky, who served as the ninth civilian governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, from 1961-1969.

Morris Paiewonsky celebrated his 100th birthday Friday with his four children - Albert, Edgar, Sheila, Irvin - and his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Although he's slowed down a bit by age, the centenarian still manages to hold down a job, and for two hours every day, except weekends, he goes to his office at Center Mall Partnership on Alton Adams Drive, behind the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

"I'm in charge of Center Mall Ltd. Partnership, which manages real estate," he said. "The Paiewonsky family is the owner of the Little Switzerland building, and I'm responsible for making sure the property is taken care of. That's my obligation. Whatever comes in to be repaired and changed, I can handle that."

Paiewonsky began his career managing the family-owned Center Theater and the Apollo Theater.

Born in the Dominican Republic, Morris Paiewonsky came to St. Thomas at age 9 to learn English, his eldest son, Albert Paiewonsky, said.

Morris Paiewonsky attended the Belgian Nun School, which was part of a Catholic school. From there, he continued his education in New York City and went to college at St. Louis University and New York University.

He returned to the Dominican Republic to work in his father's business, then moved on to Uruguay and Peru before returning to St. Thomas in 1957, Albert Paiewonsky said.

Albert Paiewonsky attributes his father's longevity to his staying active.

"He gets up every morning before 8, he has an agenda, he has someplace to go. I think we all should do that," Albert Paiewonsky said. "He goes for breakfast at 9 a.m. and goes to work at 9:30 a.m. He has a friend who takes him in to work every morning, then has someone who picks him up for lunch, then takes him home. He's in better health than I am. He watches what he eats and takes very good care of himself."

Louise Smith, 80, who has worked as Morris Paiewonsky's secretary for 40 years since 1970, extolled his virtues.

"He's a very kind-hearted man. He's devoted to his family and is very good as a boss. He's understanding, caring and a very loving family man, very good-hearted and sympathetic. As to work, he's still aware of what he's doing. There's really nothing bad I can say about him," Smith said.

Although Morris Paiewonsky has some difficulty with his hearing, his son Albert said his father is in excellent health and still indulges in some of his favorite pastimes.

"He used to hike and did a lot of walking every day, but he now uses a walker or a cane, so he can't do that anymore. But he loves sports. He watches football and basketball games on TV, and he reads a lot," he added.

At 100, Morris Paiewonsky still values his independence.

"He lives alone, he sleeps alone, he doesn't want anyone living with him, and my sister and I are very worried about that. He values his privacy," Albert Paiewonsky said.

Friday, the family held a lunch party to celebrate Morris Paiewonsky's significant milestone.

- Contact Corliss Smithen at 774-8772 ext. 302 or email

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