Celebrating 111 years: A life of family, faith and service.
Born Anna Boffilo in Irsina, Matera, Basilicata, Italy in 1912, American House Fort Myers resident, Anna Natella, turned 111 years old on November 21. Anna’s birthday celebration took place at the senior living community at 2 p.m. on her big day. The event was a joyous occasion, with her daughter Cindy, grandson Eric, Fort Myers Mayor Kevin B. Anderson, members of the local sheriff’s department and a group from the local high school.
As one of the oldest people in the state of Florida and one of approximately 60 supercentenarians in the U.S. over 110 years old, Anna’s longevity is truly remarkable. When asked about her secret to a long and fulfilling life, she simply replied, “Never tell a lie and always be honest.”
How Anna lived could script a reference manual on aging well. She led a life of involvement, whether in her community garden club or women’s club where her sewing skills benefitted area veterans. With all her community service and 23 years as a volunteer at the Pompano Beach Hospital, Anna became very well known and the community of Pompano Beach nominated her for Woman of the Year. She presented herself each day dressed well with matching jewelry, driving her car until she was 96 years old. With her strong faith, she attended church every Sunday and still prays the Rosary twice each day. Anna believed in “all things in moderation.” Well into her 90s, she cooked a sit-down meal every day and avoided snacking.
Like many people seeking a better life, Anna’s family emigrated from Italy to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island in 1926, settling in New York, and later in Milburn, New Jersey. Anna’s father was a gardener for a wealthy family, but as the Depression took its toll, the children were needed to pitch in to help make ends meet. At 16 years old, Anna left school to work as a seamstress in a sweatshop, eventually taking a job in a coal factory.
In 1937, Anna married Dominic Natella. The young couple had only $235 to their name, but worked hard and raised two daughters, Mary and Cynthia. Dominic was a tool and die maker in his early years, then went to college to become an electrical engineer. The family lived in New Jersey and Massachusetts. Before turning 60 years old, the couple retired and moved to Pompano Beach. Unfortunately, Dominic passed just a few years later. Anna immersed herself in her family and her community, which helped her feel needed and gave her hope after losing the love of her life. Anna is revered by her family and friends at American House as a woman who lives a respected life of faith and service.
We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. Our seniors have amazing stories that hold a wealth of wisdom. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.
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