Howard Rady celebrates his 100th birthday. Photo by Kathy Tran.

Howard Rady celebrates his 100th birthday.
Photo by Kathy Tran.

Howard Rady was born on May 8, 1924. His parents immigrated from Eastern Europe in the late 1800s. His grandmother changed his surname by hand on his birth certificate from Radunsky to Rady in order to assimilate with southern culture.

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At 10, Rady sold newspapers on the street when his parents’ furniture business succumbed to the Great Depression.

At 20, he was enrolled at Vanderbilt University studying chemical engineering. Just before his graduation, Rady volunteered to serve in World War II and join the US Navy.

“I knew I was gonna be drafted so I volunteered,” Rady says. “My dad had been in the Navy in World War I so I decided that was the idea. Plus, I didn’t have to sleep in the foxhole.”

He served as a Quartermaster on LST 838, also known as the USS Hunterdon County. It launched in late 1944, sailing the South Pacific and Panama Canal. While on the sea, he survived a suicide bombing attack and a brief encounter with an underwater minefield.

Rady was discharged in 1946, going back to Vanderbilt University to finish his degree. Three years later, he met Anita Goldman, who he married later that year.

Howard Rady celebrates his 100th birthday. Photo by Kathy Tran.

Howard Rady celebrates his 100th birthday.
Photo by Kathy Tran.

In 1951, the couple moved from Tennessee to Dallas, knowing nothing about the city other than its potential for business. Rady opened Zip One Hour Dry Cleaning, the first cleaning service to offer one hour turnarounds in the city, at One Main Place Downtown.

“In those days, men wore dress shirts all the time,” he says, wearing a blue button-up and World War II veteran baseball cap. “I ended up doing 1,500 shirts a week.”

He would use that money to invest in rental properties around Dallas, as well as in South Padre and a tree farm in East Texas.

In 1962, Anita gave birth to a daughter named Francis, Howard’s only child.

Between managing his businesses and raising Francis, Howard began to pick up ballroom dancing in the ‘80s, a hobby he’d continue until the 2000s.

In 2014, Francis took over the remaining properties under Howard’s name.

“My dad always took on new challenges,” Francis says. “I think that’s what he’s really taught me is hard work, grit and pushing through.”

Now 61, she splits time between Colorado and Dallas, spending her time here with her father, always making sure to show her appreciation for him.

In December 2020, Howard and Anita were the first residents to move into The Legacy Midpark Assisted Living, where Anita would pass away months later after a battle with dementia.

Howard still lives at the facility, recently celebrating his 100th birthday with family, friends and staff members. He received an honorary proclamation from Richardson Mayor Bob Dubey, congratulating him on crossing the centennial mark.

He’s still incredibly sharp, physically and mentally. He spends his days reading, talking to Francis and working out at the in-house physical therapy facility. Photos of him exercising are displayed on the wall in his room.

“I’m 100, but I’m doing the therapy of a 65-year-old,” he boasts.