BARNEGAT, NJ – Centenarian Rose Cordasco lives on a quiet cul-de-sac west of the parkway in the Pheasant Run retirement community. The last thing she expected this afternoon was the blaring of horns outside her home.
Then, someone important looking came walking towards the garage door where she sat outside.
Barnegat Mayor Al Bille and his wife Nancy were armed with a plaque honoring Rose’s impressive milestone birthday. They also presented the well-coiffed woman with a colorful bouquet of roses.
Rose was born on February 27, 1921. Her neighbors decided they weren’t going to let the pandemic dampen the celebration of her 100th birthday.
A Barnegat police car led a parade of cars draped with signs and shouts of well wishes. Someone baked Rose a cake, while others presented her with gifts, flowers, and balloons.
Barnegat Patrolman Tim Bradshaw, the area’s assigned Community Police Officer, made sure to offer his own personal celebratory greetings as well. Everyone joined in a chorus to sing happy birthday to Rose, who seemed to really enjoy the special attention.
The aftermath of Superstorm Sandy brought Rose to live with her daughter and son-in-law in Barnegat. Janet and Stephen Andricsak say Rose insists on maintaining her independence.
“She’s up every morning and makes her own bed,” shared Janet. “She’s a phenomenal cook and doesn’t mince words if I’m not making a recipe the way she thinks it needs to be done.”
Rose takes particular pride in her personal appearance. Amid the pandemic, she rarely leaves the house. Yet, she still makes sure her hair looks exactly right – even though she’s just staying home.
Originally from Newark, Rose came from a family of 12 siblings. Two died before she was born. Of the six remaining brothers and sisters, Rose is the oldest and the youngest is 86.
When Rose was in her early twenties, she climbed the steps to enter an almost empty bus. The bus driver began flirting with Rose and invited her to sit up front. Apparently smitten, he only got up the nerve to ask Rose on a date when she showed up on his bus a second time.
Ralph and Rose Cordasco courted for only five or six months before they married in 1943. Ralph’s passing in 1970 created a void in Rose’s life.
“My mother had no interest in remarrying,” Janet said. “She always said my father was too good to find a replica of and she was content on her own.”
Janet is the couple’s only child together, although Rose considers her stepson Anthony as her own. He lives in Texas. Rose has four grandchildren and three greats.
The winter cold finds Rose watching television and keeping track of current events in newspapers and magazines. Janet says her mom can’t wait for it to warm up, so she can sit outside and wave to people as they pass in their cars. And there’s no doubt she’ll be out strolling the neighborhood.
“There’s been times when I’ve been inside thinking my mom was sitting out front,” shared Janet. “Only to find out she decided to take a walk.”
Rose has a mind of her own and dismisses any suggestions that maybe she shouldn’t venture out without someone to catch her in case she falls. Janet shared her concerns with the family doctor, including her mother’s stubborn refusal to use her cane.
“Why would I use it,” Rose said to the doctor. “It’s for old people.”
According to Janet, the secret to her mother reaching centenary status is as simple as eating heaps of fresh vegetables, as well as lots of garlic and olive oil.
A recipe for longevity that’s done well for lovely Rose Cordasco as she celebrates 100 years young.
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