BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Last year, Mary Nuccio was concerned she was not going to see her 100th birthday, so she had her brother write President Barack Obama to get her centenarian letter a year early.
She received that letter and is now waiting for another one to celebrate reaching 100, along with 12 other residents at Chapin Home for the Aging in Jamaica.
The nursing home, which opened in 1869, celebrated 13 residents on June 27 who are already 100 or will be reaching triple digits this year. Jennifer McManaman, Chapin’s assistant administrator, said she credits Nuccio’s persistence for helping the home realize how many centenarians they had.
“I’m the first in my family to live to 100,” Nuccio said. “I don’t know the secret.”
One of her daughters had an idea about what may have helped Nuccio reach the centennial mark.
“She walks everywhere,” Marylyn Fidler said. “She likes cake and stuff like that but she eats a Mediterranean diet mostly.”
Kate Kuhle, a current employee and former volunteer at Chapin, called Nuccio “the mayor of Chapin.”
Denzil Cendrecourt of Cambria Heights attended the celebration with his family to spend the day with his father, Ivo, who also turned 100 in January. Ivo has lived at Chapin for two years, along with several friends.
“I think it’s a pleasure having him here. It’s a beautiful place,” Denzil said. “Since I’ve come here, I’ve made more friends.”
Ivo has trouble hearing, but he proudly held onto his plaque from the President throughout the celebration.
The residents and their guests were treated to a series of prayers, songs and performances. They were sent certificates from Councilman Paul Vallone’s (D-Bayside) office and were handed State Senate resolutions by State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) honoring their 100 years. Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) also attended the event and congratulated the centenarians.
The most difficult part of living past 100 seemed to be keeping track of the years beyond the landmark. Eight of the residents being honored had passed 100, including Mildred Gent, who brought 107 years of experience to the party.
Former New Jersey resident Annette Funghini, 102, had some sound advice for people of any age, despite the fact that she did not care to pay attention to her own age.
“I don’t even know myself; the age goes by but I don’t keep track,” Funghini said. “Just try to be gentle and kind to everyone. Live a good normal life and don’t overdo yourself.”
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.