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At 104, Tamarac woman still a sharp dresser offering sage advice

February 28, 2019, 12:35 PM

By Mort Mazor

Special correspondent


A sharp dresser, a radiant smile and an uplifting spirit is how Valerie Ianieri describes her grandmother Rose Helen Casarona Calvina, of Tamarac, who turned 104 recently.

“She has a beautiful complexion, looks like she is 80 years old… very smart, nothing gets past her,” she said. “At 104 years old, she has a very sharp mind. She continues to be a sharp dresser and never leaves the house without her purse and shoes matching, and her lipstick that doubles as rouge.”

Born in Manhattan, Calvina didn’t complete high school because she went to work in the Van Heusen factory in New York during the Great Depression to help sustain the family.

Living through the Great Depression taught Calvina the value of a dollar and the importance of savings. She also learned how to be self-reliant and independent. Her biggest disappointment was not having a higher education to become a bookkeeper, but over the years she learned valuable life skills in financial management.

She said it was difficult to leave behind her family in Allentown, Pennsylvania to move to Broward County 46 years ago. She volunteered for the Broward County Republican Party and is a member of Saint Helen Catholic Church in Lauderdale Lakes.

Her friends and relatives call her a “feisty Sicilian” and say Calvina’s sage wisdom helps everyone she meets.

She still lives in her own home and until two years ago, took care of everything herself. She loved to cook authentic Italian dishes, but stopped when she turned 103. She said she believes her Italian cooking and the use of olive oil has led to her longevity.

Calvina enjoys a glass of rosé wine and going to the beach to listen to the sound of the ocean and smell the sea.

She said sleep is more important than food.

She listens to music by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Perry Como. One of her favorite phrases and songs is “Que Sera, Sera, Whatever Will Be, Will Be.”

She has been challenged over the past year as her vision has diminished, disabling her from reading a newspaper, which she used to do every day. But she watches television news in order to stay on top of happenings and have enlightened conversations.

Her immediate family members include her husband Alfred Calvina who died in 1996; daughter Anita Wentz and her husband Bill who live in Maryland; granddaughters Linda Ianieri (New York) and Valerie Ianieri (Virginia); and great-grandchildren William Mosconi and Julian Mosconi, both of New York.


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