St. Petersburg resident Phil Szemela celebrated his 100th birthday this month.
Phil, who lives at The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay, celebrated the occasion with a special visit from his family and the local fire department. While it isn’t the birthday party he and his family had envisioned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s special because Phil is a retired firefighter. He is also a World War II veteran.
Born in 1920, Phil is the youngest of six children and grew up in Massachusetts during the Great Depression. In 1940, he began working on airplane engines for World War II and in 1942 he joined the Navy, serving in the war for three years. Upon his return to the states in 1944, Phil married his wife Stella and they welcomed their daughter in 1949.
After the war, he returned to his job at Pratt & Whitney. However, growing up in during the Great Depression, he knew how quickly things could change in an industry that depended on demand. It was then that he began working as a firefighter – a career he had dreamed of pursuing since the age of five.
In 2016, Phil and his wife Stella moved to Florida to be closer to their daughter. They now live happily in a waterfront apartment at The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay, an independent, assisted living and memory care community in St. Petersburg.
When asked what he attributes to a long and happy life, Phil said “faith during hard times, investing in yourself and your future, and a sense of community,” which they have found at The Fountains.
“The Fountains has helped us sustain a sense of community in our retirement years,” said Phil. “We are grateful for the easygoing atmosphere and knowing that all of our needs are met.”
About The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay
The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay is a retirement community in St. Petersburg located at 1255 Pasadena Avenue South on a 14-acre waterfront property. The community offers independent living, assisted living and memory care, with short and long-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation at The Springs, an on-site health center operated by Summit Care. The Fountains’ vibrant lifestyle includes multiple dining options, an extensive calendar of events, outings, classes, clubs and fitness opportunities. Managed by Watermark Retirement Communities, The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay is committed to creating an extraordinary community where people thrive. For more information, visit bocaciegabay.watermarkcommunities.com.