SALT LAKE CITY — The local chapter of the Nation Council of Jewish Women honored former NCJW president and longtime community advocate Esther Landa on Sunday, ahead of her upcoming 100th birthday in December.

The event — which included a dinner, remarks and skits in Landa's honor — was held at the I.J. and Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center. Landa will turn 100 years old on Christmas Day.

Pat Jarvis, a friend of more than 50 years, said that she loved the celebration. She described Landa as warm, but direct, and someone who truly cares about people.

"She deserves every good thing that can be said about her," Jarvis said. "She's done so much good in the world."

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In addition to serving as national president of the NCJW between 1975 and 1979, Landa has been president of the B'nai Israel Sisterhood, the League of Women's Voters co-founded the Utah Head Start Program and served on the Utah State Board of Education from 1970-1974. In her lifetime she has received several honors and awards from community and political engagement organizations, including being named to President Jimmy Carter's Advisory Commission on women.

McGillis described Landa as a mentor, saying the nonagenarian introduced her to — among other things — politics, community and organizational engagements and humanitarianism.

"She has been a phenomenal community leader," said Joanne McGillis, a member of the tribute committee. "She's been an inspiration for every woman in this community."

Benjamin Wood