109-year-old known for quick wit
In February 1904, the opera “Madama Butterfly” premiered in Milan.
Ty Cobb prepped for his professional baseball debut.
The United States bought the Panama Canal Zone.
On Feb. 18, 1904, longtime former Grand Junction resident Anna Marie Mancuso was born in Flushing, N.Y. And on Sunday night in Sherwood Park in Grand Junction, Mancuso patiently answered the same questions over again:
What’s it take to make it 109 years?
“I don’t know ... God don’t want me,” Mancuso replied, showing off what her family described as her trademark wit and humor.
“Maybe I’m a bad girl,” she added.
Mancuso, who her family says has been recognized as the oldest living resident of Utah, was honored by her sizeable Grand Junction-area family with a belated birthday dinner at Sherwood Park. Mancuso and her late husband, Frank, purchased a home in the Riverside neighborhood, 517 W. Main St., in 1929.
Reluctantly, she left her Grand Junction home five years ago to live with her daughter, Rosemarie Morelli, in suburban Salt Lake City.
Her official 109th birthday was observed in Mesquite, Nev., this past February, where she also had a medical scare.
“The paramedics were working on her and, I don’t know what they asked her, but whatever answer she gave them, he had them all in hysterics,” Morelli recalled.
“I said, ‘Well, Mom’s back and just as witty as ever.’ “
Longevity is in the family. Mancuso’s parents lived to 89 and 92 years and she had one sister who aged to 96.
A homemaker, Mancuso had three children. Morelli is her lone surviving child. Mancuso’s husband, Frank, was a machinist with the railroad company, and they married in 1926 in Denver.
Three years later, they bought their home in the Riverside neighborhood.
“She loves her fruits and vegetables ... doesn’t eat much meat,” the daughter said.
Mancuso’s niece, Cindy Enos-Martinez of Grand Junction, said Mancuso largely shunned dining out.
“She had a lot of home-cooked meals, lots of vegetables,” Enos-Martinez said. “Her eating habits were always good.”
Morelli said her mother misses her Grand Junction home, and they try to check on the property at least once a year. She’s pledged not to sell the property in her mother’s lifetime.
Mancuso particularly misses the hummingbirds around Riverside.
“She calls them her ‘little babies,’ ” Morelli said.