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Former Valley resident a 'super' supercentenarian

| Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, 12:52 a.m.
KIM STEPINSKY | FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
In this photo from January 2013, Irene Ciuffoletti shares a smile with her great-grandson John Giesey during a party celebrating her 110th birthday.

Irene Ciuffoletti was overwhelmed by the sight of her birthday cake.

“Oh, my God. Oh, my God,” she said, her soft voice still sweetened with her native Italian accent. “What did I do?”

She celebrated her 110th birthday on Sunday, making her a “supercentenarian.” And she blew out her own birthday candles before enjoying cake and ice cream.

Formerly of New Kensington and Arnold, Mrs. Ciuffoletti was joined by family at St. Anne Home, a nursing home in Greensburg, where she has lived for five years.

According to the Gerontology Research Group, which seeks ways to slow or reverse aging, the oldest living American is a Florida woman born in April 1899; the world's oldest person is a Japanese man born in April 1897, the group's website says.

Mrs. Ciuffoletti was born Irene Zito in Italy on Jan. 19, 1903. She and her family came to the United States in 1912 after her father got a job with Alcoa, said her youngest son, Julius Ciuffoletti, 75, of Arnold.

Her husband, Emilio Ciuffoletti, died in 1957 at the age of 66, Julius Ciuffoletti said.

Mrs. Ciuffoletti worked hard raising five sons, Julius Ciuffoletti said. She has outlived three. Julius and his brother Arthur, 83, of Arnold both attended their mother's party.

The family tallied her descendants at 10 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.

“It's amazing,” said grandson Eric Ciuffoletti of Lower Burrell. “I don't think I want to live that long. I'm tired already at 42.”

Mrs. Ciuffoletti was a typical Italian grandmother, “always wanting to feed you,” Eric Ciuffoletti said. He liked her homemade ravioli.

“She always says, ‘Love each other,' ” he said.

Mrs. Ciuffoletti is hard of hearing, but her mind is sound, Julius Ciuffoletti said.

“She remembers a lot of things that just astound us,” Carol Ciuffoletti, Julius' wife, said.

She is said to be in good health.

“She's a sweetheart,” said Maureen Myers, a nurse's aide at Saint Anne.

Myers said the only challenge with Mrs. Ciuffoletti is waking her up in the morning, because she likes to sleep in. She also is a bit of a “show off” when it comes to wheeling herself around in her wheelchair.

“She can't believe she's 110 years old,” Myers said. “She's a joy to take care of and an amazing person.”

Anyone looking for Mrs. Ciuffoletti's secret to long life might be disappointed. She wonders how she's done it, too.

She has shared a theory with Carol Ciuffoletti that involves Julius.

“She's told me the reason she's still here is because she's not through raising him yet,” Carol Ciuffoletti said.

Carol Ciuffoletti said her mother-in-law was a “clean-living person,” never smoking or drinking, and stayed active.

“We think it's a miracle. She prays a lot. She's very faithful. She prays for anyone who needs prayers,” Carol Ciuffoletti said.

At St. Anne, Mrs. Ciuffoletti visits the chapel daily after breakfast.

“She's a good and loving woman. She loves her family and she loves her faith,” said the Rev. Dennis Bogusz, chaplain at Saint Anne.

“I know she regards every day as a special gift from God.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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