PEABODY – Anastasia Thannhauser Dunau – known to family and friends as Stasi – celebrated her 100th birthday on July 16. A resident of Kaplan Estates in Peabody, Stasi is an extraordinary woman who was way ahead of her time.
Born in Munich, Germany in 1919, Stasi came to the U.S., with her parents and two sisters, fleeing Germany as the Nazis rose to power and stripped her father of his position as a physician heading the Internal Medicine Department at Freiburg University. Her mother was Catholic; her father Jewish. It was her mother who convinced her father they had to leave, intuitively sensing what was in store for Jews in Germany.
After settling in Brookline, Stasi attended The Windsor School, excelling in her studies despite the fact that she spoke very little English. She went on to attend Smith College and Yale Law School, one of only two women in her class. Stasi began her law career as a labor lawyer in private practice in New York City. She then moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the National Labor Relations Board where she met her future husband, Ben Dunau, also a labor lawyer. She ultimately worked the majority of her career at the United States Labor Department helping to write and then enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act and Equal Pay Act for Women. She ended her career as an administrative law judge with the Labor Department.
At a time when very few women worked, Stasi successfully combined a high-powered career while raising three sons and a daughter with her husband Ben. She and Ben both worked and raised their family in the Washington, D.C. area. Sadly, Ben passed away suddenly in 1975 after 25 years of marriage.
Walking into Stasi’s apartment at Kaplan Estates, guests will immediately notice the many framed photographs of family members and a glass case full of family mementos, including medals her father was awarded during WW1. There’s also a photo of Stasi and Hillary Clinton in the White House as well as one of Stasi with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Stasi still remembers giving Ruth a ride home after a meeting of the Women’s Judges Association, even though, as Stasi jokes, “I am a terrible driver.”
Stasi lived by herself until she was 85 and then resided in an independent living complex for seven years. In 2011, Stasi moved into Kaplan Estates. She has been charming residents and staff ever since.
A Bingo enthusiast, Stasi participates in arts and crafts projects, weekly restaurant outings and special events. Her family is thankful she is a resident at Kaplan Estates where they know she is safe, happy, and beloved by staff and residents.
In honor of Stasi’s milestone birthday, her family threw her a celebration in their Lake Winnipesaukee home, with over 60 friends and family members. There was also a special reception held at Kaplan Estates.