Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Still partying at 105

Matilda Centurione celebrated her birthday Monday, and many of her five children, 14 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren plan to give her another party this weekend.

Still partying at 105

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Grandaughters Robin Pavlo (left) and Theresa Sturgeon help Matilda Centurione celebrate her 105th birthday Monday at the Wesley Enhanced Living retirement home in Doylestown.

Matilda Centurione of Doylestown, who celebrated her 105th birthday Monday, said her secret to a happy life is: "I was never mad at nobody."

Centurione, known as Tilly, was surrounded by two granddaughters and friends at the Wesley Enhanced Living retirement home. She has five children, 14 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

She enjoys sewing, needlecraft and puzzles and is considered an expert speller.

Centurione was born in Sardinia, Italy, on March 15, 1907, and moved to the Philadelphia area with her family when she was 5, daughter Evelyn McLaughlin said. Centurione’s father was a French professor and was fluent in nine languages.

She got married in 1927 and lived in South Philadelphia and later Germantown. During the Depression, she did sewing to help support her family, McLaughlin said. During World War II, she made hats and scarves. She went on to have a career at Univac, retiring at 65.

When Centurione was a young mother, a tooth infection led to a near-fatal condition that required 10 operations. She keeps a medallion close to her heart to remind her how fortunate she is to have recovered.

With her family grown, Centurione and her husband, Santo, moved to the Northeast. He died in 1986.  At age 93, she moved to an assisted-care facility in Holland, and at age 99 moved to the Doylestown home.  

At her party Monday, Pamela and Sal Centola sang some of Centurione’s favorite songs in honor of her Italian roots.

This actually is the week of the birthday of Centurione.

"She always thought it was the 12th, and that's what we celebrated," her daughter said. "but the birth certificate says March 15, so she would say that was her birthday, too."

And this weekend, most of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren plan to surprise her with another party.

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About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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