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'One happy cookie' | Atlanta World War II veteran celebrates 100th birthday

WXIA-TV Atlanta logo WXIA-TV Atlanta 8/27/2021 Liza Lucas

A World War II veteran and longtime Atlanta resident is celebrating a milestone moment.

On Friday, August 27, Jane Agati turned 100 years young. 

"I never dreamt the day would come that I would reach 100," Agati said. "I'm one happy cookie."

In her 100th year, Agati's zest for life is still readily apparent. She showed off her love of tap dance to 11Alive's Liza Lucas, singing a rendition of "The Old Soft Shoe," shuffling her feet in time. 

Her home has been Atlanta for more than 60 years. The wife and mother of two moved with her husband to the area in 1956. 

"We fell in love with [Atlanta] and raised our children here," Agati said. "I'm one happy mother, one happy person."

"One of my secrets is keeping busy," Agati said. "Keep keep busy and when you're busy making sure you're doing that's worthwhile. And then that makes you feel good and the person you did something for, feel good. So that's been my philosophy."

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That philosophy came into play during World War II, when Agati was tapped to serve as part of the U.S. Navy's WAVES program, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. 

She still remembers the day officers approached her and her friends about the program. 

"I lived in a very small town of northern New Jersey and all of our men went to service. it was a dead town and we women didn't have anything to do. and we were sitting on a lawn just talking and a car pulled up and it was two officers."

Agati said she was asked to leave her home in New Jersey and go to Hunter College, where she trained as dental hygienist and subsequently travelled to bases to help care for the troops.

"I went to a lot of different stations and took care of our boys," Agati said, adding she took advantage of the G.I. bill's educational benefits following her time in the Navy. Her husband Nick served as an U.S. Army captain. 

"We have the greatest country in the world, and if I could do just a little bit to help it, I was determined to do it," Agati said.  

That outlook has continued throughout her life through charity work and other outreach (the Agati's also held an annual Atlanta Country Club spaghetti dinner for five decades).

"There's always someone out there that needs help," Agati reiterated. "And make sure you're going to be the one to help them."

It's a mission that's kept her young at heart. Her love of dance can't hurt either.

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