Verona had just celebrated its second anniversary as a borough when Geraldine Ballinger was born. Cedar Grove had only feted its first. Ballinger, who lived in 60 years in Cedar Grove and a bit more than two decades in Verona, turned 102 on July 13. She celebrated the milestone on Thursday, surrounded by family and friends at Verona’s Hillwood senior citizen building, where she is known for her energetic dancing and exercising. Ballinger’s longevity had attracted interest outside Verona even before her birthday: She is one of the participants in the National Institute on Aging’s Long Life Family Study.
Gerry Ballinger’s daughter-in-law, Jane Ballinger, thinks smart eating may have played a role. “I don’t think she had a cookie until she was 80,” she quipped.