Johnston's Pezza celebrates 108th birthday in style

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Few people have enjoyed as many birthday bashes as Emma Rotondo Pezza.

After all, the native Johnstonian – who was born on March 30, 1911 – has now been the guest of honor at 108 birthday parties, including the one dozens of immediate family members hosted last Friday night inside the Tyrolean Room at Alpine Country Club in Cranston.

“We have a party for her every year,” Virginia “Ginny” Squizzero, the 108-year-old’s daughter, noted with a smile. “We’re proud of her. We’ve been blessed to have her with us this long.”

Needless to say, Pezza was showered with gifts – just as she’s been through her years – but that trend continued well past last Friday night’s party.

“It’s amazing,” Squizzero said. “People are still coming to the house showing their love and affection for our mother. She’s the matriarch of our wonderful family.”

That statement was backed by Monsignor Carlo F. Montecalvo, the former pastor at Our Lady of Grace Church in Johnston, where Pezza has been a communicant for years. He delivered a heart-warming and moving tribute to a wonderful woman and long-time friend, who has had many marvelous milestones during her 108 years.

For example, Pezza worked as the bookkeeper in the family business – C. Pezza & Son, which used to be based where the Johnston Department of Public Works is now located – until she was 94 years old.

Several years ago, Pezza was honored with the prestigious title of grand marshal of the highly acclaimed Primavera at Our Lady of Grace Church.

She’s also honored to have six grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

If people ask Pezza about the key to her longevity, her daughter Ginny and others will readily offer: “She’ll say, ‘God’s been good to me!’”

Perhaps the same holds true for her brother Julio Rotondo, now 99, who’ll become a centenarian on Dec. 18 and will be honored with a party that his close friends Joe Grasso and Peter Lombardi, just to name a few, say they’re going to make special.

When asked about his key to living a long life, Julio quickly replied: “Drinking red wine!”

So there’s Emma at 108, her sister Angela Rotondo McCord, who is 101, and Julio, 99.

Julio and Angelo sat with their sister Emma while enjoying the festivities last Friday night, which included a choice of chicken or fish for dinner since it’s Lent. There was also a birthday cake and music from keyboardist/singer Michael DiMucci.

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