- Associated Press - Friday, December 25, 2015

NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa. (AP) - Sitting in the used-car dealership he owns in North Huntingdon, Zigmund Barton, a member of that Greatest Generation that endured the Great Depression in the 1930s and served his country in World War II, has no plans to retire and absolutely scoffs at the notion.

The 99-year-old Hempfield man, who has owned a number of businesses, enjoys interacting with customers at Norwin Motors. If he were to stay home and relax like most others approaching the century mark, Barton said he would not like it.

“I’d get bored,” said Barton, who celebrated his birthday on Tuesday.

Barton said he tried retirement several years ago, but found it did not suit his tastes. That brief respite from work came in 2003 after he sold the Norwin Diner, the Route 30 landmark he had purchased in 1972.

Barton opened the car dealership in 2009 on property he owned that was a tire store. His grandson operates the dealership, but Barton drives himself to work there every day.

Barton, a Jeannette native, has owned restaurants in Hempfield, Latrobe, North Huntingdon and North Versailles; a coffee and tea distribution company that ran four trucks to offer home delivery; and a carnival ride company that popped up for fairs in towns around the region.

Why run so many businesses - often at the same time? Barton answered by rubbing his thumb and index finger together - the international sign for money.

“I’ve been in business all my life,” Barton said.

He may have picked up that trait from his father, who settled in Jeannette after immigrating from Poland more than a century ago. Barton’s father, who changed his name from Bartosek to Barton, ran a confectionery store in Irwin.

Although Barton worked at the Elliott Co. after graduating from Jeannette High School in 1935, he admitted he did not like working for someone else.

“I just liked being on my own,” Barton said.

His work making photostatic copies at Elliott Co. was a prelude to a civilian job with the pre-war Navy. When the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, Barton joined thousands of others and enlisted in the Navy in 1942. He remained stateside, making navigation charts from an office in Washington, D.C.

When he was discharged from the Navy, he opted to return home to Jeannette and open Barton Tea and Coffee Co., rather than return to his old job at Elliott.

As fate would have it, returning home was a good move because he met his wife, Helen Race, who was serving ice cream at a Jeannette restaurant. They wed in 1945 and the marriage produced four daughters. In 1968, he married his current wife, Eileen. Barton has a large family of two surviving daughters, four stepchildren, 13 grandchildren and step-grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren.

Barton, whose friends and family call him “Ziggy,” has a rather simple explanation for how he has lived almost 100 years.

“I don’t go to the doctors. Medicine makes a well man sick,” said Barton, who made it clear that an annual check-up by a doctor was not on his birthday “to-do” list.

He carries with him a small yellow booklet published in 1612, “How to Live One Hundred Years,” which he said he purchased 90 years ago for a nickel.

The only concession to age for the slimly-built Barton is the earphones he wears as a hearing aid. He doesn’t eat meat, chooses fruits over water for his hydration, and refrains from two vices that he says can rob a person of their health.

“I don’t drink. I don’t smoke,” Barton said.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/1kiQFkN

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Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, https://pghtrib.com


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