Queens centenarians celebrate birthdays


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Ferrari
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Ferrari

Caffe Italia in Whitestone hosted Maria Biancaniello’s 102nd birthday party, attended by family and friends.

MELISSA FERRARI

Woman celebrates turning 102 at local cafe

Maria Biancaniello celebrated turning 102 surrounded by family and friends.

On Friday, July 5, Caffe Italia in Whitestone hosted Biancaniello’s 102nd birthday party. The energy in Biancaniello’s favorite restaurant was joyous as her family gathered to celebrate her life. The turnout included Biancaniello’s three children, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. When her cake arrived, Biancaniello’s youngest son, Anthony Bianco, played “Happy Birthday” on the violin for her while everyone in attendance sang along.

The Whitestone resident visits Caffe Italia as often as she can. She enjoys treating herself to her favorite pastry, the “lulu,” so it was no wonder that Biancaniello’s family chose this bakery to commemorate her birthday.

Born in Nusco, Italy in 1911, Biancaniello’s primary language is Italian. A lifelong Catholic, she received her first Holy Communion from the famous priest Padre Pio in Italy. She immigrated to America with her husband, Pietro, and her four children in 1955, and spent time working in a doll factory. Widowed in 1995,

Biancaniello moved to Whitestone from Long Island City in 1998. Biancaniello attributed her longevity to the great company she has kept. Her children and grandchildren brimmed with pride while discussing memories of her cooking, wit, great sense of humor and her love of being around other people.

Woman reflects on 100 years

Anne Certner has a century’s worth of stories, memories and experiences.

Certner was born in Union City, New Jersey on May 26, 1913. Prior to meeting her late husband Simon, she was valedictorian of Union Hills High School. She briefly attended New Jersey State Teachers College, but had to end her studies due to the hardships of the Great Depression.

In 1937, Certner wed her husband. They moved to the Bronx, where they raised their children Naomi and Joel.

In 1955, the family moved to Kew Gardens, where Certner was a piano teacher. She also went back to school to study music at Queens College. After receiving her degree, she began teaching elementary school music at P.S 81 in Ridgewood.

In the 1970s, Certner was able to showcase her musicality when she sang with the Dessoff Choir in Carnegie Hall.

Today Certner enjoys the company of her three grandchildren, who call her every day, as well as her three great-grandchildren. She plays duplicate bridge at Pride of Judea in Douglaston every week and has many other passions, including reading, crossword puzzles, gambling, horse races and the New York Knicks.

Naomi credits her mother’s aging well to “keeping her mind sharp” and the company that she has had over the years, especially her cat Yianni. Naomi feels the pet has been an instrumental part of keeping her mother as “joyful” as she is.

 

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