Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Happy Birthday To Nina Claremont Celebrating 100 Years Of Age Today - A Roosevelt Island Pioneering Resident, British World War 2 Radar Operator, Adventurous Pilot, Successful Caterer, Mom & Loves A Party

Happy Birthday and Best Wishes to long time Roosevelt Island resident Nina Claremont who is celebrating her 100th birthday today.  

According to Nina's family:


Nina, a pioneer Roosevelt Island resident is turning 100 today January 4. 

She discovered Roosevelt Island entirely by accident and in spring of 1976 decided to make it her home, despite the fact that back then the tram, supermarket and other island necessities were not yet available. Her initial intent was to stay for no more than 2 or 3 years and here she is 45 plus years later – one of our Island’s oldest long-standing residents. 

Nina was born and grew up in London. She attended London School of Economics and was evacuated to Cambridge University at the beginning of WWII where she met her future husband whom she married in 1947. She joined the WAAF (Womens Auxillary Air Force) during WWII 

where she served as a radar operator near Dover and Beachy Head on the southern coast of England. She talks of being shot at by enemy planes while sitting on the cliffs overlooking the English channel and has many other interesting war stories and life experiences she enjoys sharing with visitors over a nice “cup of tea”. Its during the war years she developed a love for aviation and flying that’s never left her. 

Nina, her husband and young son moved to the US in 1952, living first in Florida, then Colorado (where her husband served in the US army as part of the requirement for citizenship), and then New York; finally settling in Long Island where she raised her two children and pursued her interest in flying.

She obtained her pilots license in 1966 and acquired her first plane – a 4-seater Cherokee Arrow – in 1968, which marked the beginning of a long period as an Aviatrix. Her adventures carried her all over the US. She flew across country several times and through the Grand Canyon and frequently to Florida, the Bahamas and even Haiti. She won a competition to sell aircraft equipment for a small distributor in the early 70s and at that time was the company’s only flying saleswoman pilot. 
She flew several times in the Powder Puff Derby – an all-women cross-country air-race – always enjoying the experience. She was also deeply involved in the aviation community becoming a long-standing member of various aviation organizations including: the 99’s, the International Organization of Women Licensed Pilots; the AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; and The Wings Club, a distinguished organization that included in its ranks many distinguished aviators and outstanding leaders in the private and commercial aviation community, many of whom Nina was privileged enough to know. Her good pilot friend Linda took her on many an adventurous trip flying their planes side by side. 

In addition to flying, Nina was always passionate about food and turned that passion into a successful private catering business and even for a short period owned and operated a small French restaurant on Shelter Island – Café des Aviatrix. Unfortunately, the restaurant was open only for one season; Nina found it to be an exciting experience but realized she was happier as a private chef. Her passion and talent for cooking attracted a diverse clientele including such known celebrities as Al Pacino, Robert Klein, Diane Sawyer, and Ted Koppel. 

During this time she never stopped flying and even used her plane to support her catering business. Robert Klein was known to be a passenger from time to time and she even served as a private pilot for several years for her son, a successful writer, who owned his own 6-seat Bonanza. She also worked as a social worker at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center in the early 80s and up until the beginning of the pandemic was a frequent visitor who loved to help maintain the Center’s garden. 

This sprightly woman has always had a joy for life. One of the reasons she has stayed in the New York City area is for the diverse and exciting life experiences it offered: the restaurants, theater and people. She has always loved to socialize and entertain and you still find her ready to get up and dance as soon as she hears her favorite 1940’s swing music. Her eyes still light up whenever she hears the words “Lets have a party”. 

Please join us all in wishing our friend and neighbor Nina Claremont

a very Happy 100th Birthday.