HALEDON, N.J. — From the Soviet Union to Haledon, it's been quite a century for Leonid Gerasimenko.
A borough resident since 1985, Gerasimenko turned 100 this month.
Granddaughter Lauren Hout described him as distinguished.
"Always dressed to impress, cleanly shaven and carrying a comb in his pocket at all times," she said. "He is kind, respectful and just a loving man."
Gerasimenko was born Nov. 11, 1915 in the former Soviet Union, and later served in the Soviet Army.
A Holocaust survivor, he emigrated to the U.S. with his wife, Lidia, who died in 2010. They had five children: George, Anatole, Ludmilla, Olga and Tanya.
Gerasimenko lived in Paterson for nearly three decades and worked as a machinist before retiring in the mid-1980s.
He has five other grandchildren besides Hout: Michael, Christine, Sean, Christopher and Alana. He is also a great-grandfather to Brendan, Paige, Aubrey and Averie.
Family has always been an important part of Gerasimenko's life, Hout said.
"To say it is a blessing to have a grandfather that's 100 years old is truly a colossal understatement," she said. "It's a miracle, a marvel, an honor.
"Growing up, we spent every holiday together, always looked forward to him giving you 'milk money' and then 'gas money' and his birthday envelopes with just the right card chosen especially for you."
Gerasimenko is an avid fan of the New Jersey Devils, poetry, the Paterson Farmers Market, Russian news and red wine. He is a devoted parishioner of St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church.
The Haledon mayor and council honored Gerasimenko's milestone at a recent meeting -- just one moment in what Hout said has been a proud life.
"Now he sees the world through the eyes of his great-grandchildren," she said, "which includes selfies with a smirk."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.