Read this story in The Patch.
As one of 13 children, Ann Columbo DeNapoli, who turned 103 on September 11, learned at an early age how to get along with others. “It was fun having so many siblings around. Certainly, I was never lonely,” said Ann.
Recently Ann reflected on the secret to her longevity, her amazing family, and her active lifestyle as a resident of Edelweiss Village Assisted Living.
Born and raised in Dedham, Ann enjoyed playing with her siblings and children in the High Street neighborhood. Playing marbles, jumping rope, and picking blueberries were among her favorite activities. Ann met the love of her life, Frank Denapoli, at a mutual friend’s wedding. According to Dennis DeNapoli, Anne’s son, Frank often told people that it was love at first sight when he saw Ann across the room. As Dennis explained, “My dad told me she “wowed” him and he knew he had to meet her.” The rest, as they say, is history. Anne and Frank were happily married for 73 years.
The couple moved to Roslindale in 1953, where they raised their two sons, Dennis and Alan. Dennis and his wife Susan reside in West Yarmouth; Alan lives in Florida. Dennis recalls that Anne had the magic touch when it came to gardening; she enjoyed growing plants both inside and out. The family enjoyed long car trips across the country. As a child, Dennis remembers frequent outings to Filene’s Basement in Boston and shopping in the North End for Italian delicacies. The couple delighted in their large extended family, with five grandchildren, six great grandchildren, and over 100 nieces, nephews, and cousins. Sadly, Frank passed away in 2016 at the age of 100.
As one would expect, Ann has witnessed many historical events in 103 years, including the Depression, World War II, the Korean War (three of her brother served in the war), Vietnam, Afghanistan, landing on the moon, a massive fire in Dedham and the assassination of JFK. (Ann worked on the President’s campaign.) Not surprisingly, Anne vividly recalls hearing about the World Trade Center bombings the day of her 83rd birthday. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on TV,” recalled Ann. “Actually, I knew people who were on one of the planes that hit the tower. It was terrible.”
Ann celebrated her 103rd birthday among family, friends, staff, and residents at a socially distanced outdoor party on September 11. It is a huge milestone, but Ann is not surprised she has lived so long.” I have a good heart and I stay as active as possible,” exclaimed Ann. “A doctor once told me that I would live a long life, and I am intent on making that come true.”
In 2017 Ann moved into Edelweiss Village, operated by nonprofit Deutsches Altenheim. Dennis noted that that it was right decision for Ann to move into the assisted living. “I am pleased my mom is a resident at Edelweiss Village,” said Dennis. “Everyone I’ve met has been very helpful and is incredibly friendly. My mind is at ease knowing mom is getting such good care and that she has adjusted so nicely.” Added Dennis, “The first resident she met was a woman who, as they soon discovered, had many mutual friends in common with Ann. From there on in, Ann has had an active social life!” At the assisted living, Ann takes fitness classes, plays Blackjack, Wheel of Fortune and Blitz She also loves word games, arts and crafts projects and attending musical concerts and movies.
“Ann is adored by residents and staff alike,” said Deborah L. McPhee, Community Relations Director of Edelweiss Village. “She is such a warm, personable and caring individual. It’s always such a pleasure to see her involved in so many activities.” Notably, Ann is the second resident at Edelweiss to turn 103 in the last six months. When asked how she feels about turning 103, Ann was quick to respond. “Well, age is really just a number! Seriously, it doesn’t faze me at all. The people here are so nice and I have many friends. I am truly enjoying my life!