Life at 103: Rochester’s oldest resident honored
ROCHESTER — In the year 1919 European powers signed the Treaty of Versailles, the United States ratified the prohibition on alcohol, and current Rochester resident Mary Bellotti was born.
Bellotti was honored on Wednesday, Jan. 4 as Rochester’s oldest living resident. She will turn 104 on April 15.
During a ceremony at the Rochester Council on Aging, Bellotti was presented with a certificate to represent the Boston Post Cane, a gold-headed ebony cane that was given out to 700 New England towns by Boston Post publisher Edwin A. Grozier in 1909.
The original tradition saw boards of selectmen award the oldest man in each town with the cane. It would be given back to the town when the recipient died or moved away.
Now Rochester’s original cane is kept at the Rochester senior center in a glass case, explained Rochester Select Board Chair Woody Hartley.
Bellotti didn’t seem to mind that she couldn’t take the cane home, she was happy that people gathered to recognize her longevity.
“You’ve got quite the group here,” she said of the gathering.
Bellotti’s secret to a long life?
“I never drank, I never smoked and I never had sex,” she said jokingly, while flanked by her two daughters, Susan Silva and Marie Crompton.
The Bellotti family now includes four grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and five great great grandchildren, with two more on the way.
Bellotti said she grew up in Berkley and Taunton before moving to New Bedford where she was a member of the Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School class of 1937.
According to Bellotti, she enjoyed going to the vocational school more than she enjoyed her previous schooling at Holy Family Holy Name, a Catholic school in New Bedford.
“I didn’t do too well in catholic school,” she said. “I liked the [vocational school].”
But while she was a student at New Bedford Voc, she found an artistic outlet and designed the class seal for her graduating year.
Her artistic talents followed her into her career designing bedspreads for Normandie Bedspread Company.
Crompton explained that her mother worked on Martha Washington chenille bedspreads, which “a lot of people in New Bedford had on their beds.”
To this day, said Crompton, Bellotti still owns one of these vintage bedspreads, safely tucked away in her closet.
Bellotti may be 103 but she is still a mother, telling her daughter “what good is it doing in the closet — I want it out on my bed.”
She credits her family with keeping her in such good shape all these years.
“I think that depends on my family — how great I look,” she said.