Rochester’s Winifred Hartley celebrates 100th birthday

Nov 15, 2019

ROCHESTER — Winifred Hartley celebrated her 100th birthday at the Rochester Senior Center, surrounded by her friends, family, and caretakers on Friday  Nov. 15.

The centenarian was born in Taunton, grew up in New Bedford, and has lived in Rochester since marrying her husband Herb in 1941.

When asked about how the town has changed over time, Hartley said there are now “so many more houses, so many more people.”

She also said that she has “seen so many things, it’s been so long, it seems like I’ve been alive forever.”

Hartley said one of the things she is most proud of, and lucky to have is her family. She has three daughters, named Norene, Phyllis, and Deborah, and also enjoys the company of her cat Joey.

She was a school nurse at Old Rochester Regional High School for many years, and one of the students she took care of, now takes care of her.

Caretaker, and family friend Jean Rose said that Hartley was always kind to her when she was in school, and that now “it’s a joy to be her nurse.”

Fellow caretaker Natalia Ciriello said that Hartley often stays up late to tell her stories.

Hartley said that one experience that stands out to her was her cross country trips she took with her husband in a Volkswagen Bus, traveling all the way from Provincetown to San Francisco and recording her journey in a diary.

An interesting fact about herself (besides her age) is that she is ambidextrous because she was discouraged from using her left hand as a child.

“I was supposed to be left-handed, but you weren’t allowed to be left-handed in those days,” she said.

Hartley’s daughter Norene said that her mother is still largely independent, but does need the help of her family and caretakers.

Hartley didn’t share any secrets about her longevity, but did say that even she is surprised at just how long she has been alive.

As guests ate lunch at the Senior Center, and greeted Hartley for her milestone birthday celebration, they had the opportunity to see her life told through a series of photographs placed next to each other on a poster board. The photos went as far back as her early childhood, all the way up to more recent memories.