By Jen Cowart

Forever a queen

The Cranston Herald ·

On Tuesday, the community at Hope Alzheimer’s Center in Cranston celebrated an important milestone with one of their clients, Olga Susi, along with her family and friends, as she turned 104 years old.

“She is the oldest client we have had here,” said Ellen Grizzetti, president and CEO at the center.

When Susi arrived Tuesday morning, she was surrounded by a sea of purple and lavender on the tables, in the decorations, and even on the guests themselves, as so many knew that it is her favorite color. She was presented with a purple-studded tiara to show her status as queen for the day and a purple flower from each staff member. Once crowned, she gave a royal wave to all those around her, much to their delight.

Her daughter, Anita DeLuca, was overwhelmed by the celebration of her mother and was happy to share some important details about Susi’s life over these past 104 years.

“My mother was a resident of Warwick for many years,” she said. “She has been through World War II, she has met Helen Keller when she came and spoke at her high school. She was married to Danny Susi and is the mother of three daughters, myself, Elaine Anderson, and Linda Sciarra. She has many, many ‘adopted’ sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.”

She noted that many of those special people were in the room with her for the celebration and that in addition to all of those people, Susi was the grandmother of four and the great-grandmother of two.

“She is a joy to everyone she meets because of her positive attitude, no matter what,” DeLuca said. “The people who meet her are touched by her. She was a Girl Scout leader and a leader in so many other ways. She was a member of the Daughters of Isabella at St. Benedict’s Church in Warwick and was one of their Regents. She was an actress in Italian plays on Federal Hill. She had hands of gold. She could make clothing and upholster furniture.”

As the eldest of three children, she was responsible for going to work after high school and gave up a four-year scholarship to the Rhode Island School of Design to do so, instead working as a bookkeeper at the American Egg Company in Providence.

“She survived the 1934 hurricane, but her summer home at Long Meadow in Warwick was completely taken away with the storm. Just the foundation was left,” DeLuca said. “She and her husband retired and wintered in Florida and at 98 she sold her home and moved into a condo in Warwick permanently. People asked me why I was letting her do that at her age, and I told them it was because my mother can do it.”

Today, Susi still loves to shop at Macy’s and loves glitter and jewelry and being with her family and friends.

Mayor Allan Fung arrived at the Hope Alzheimer’s Center to help celebrate with Susi and presented her with a citation and challenge coin on behalf of the City of Cranston. When Mayor Fung told Susi that he too had a February birthday and had just celebrated his last week, he was pleasantly surprised as the tables were turned as Susi presented him with a birthday card that she and all her friends at the Hope Alzheimer’s Center had created and signed for him.

“I’m very happy to be here with the staff at the Hope Alzheimer’s Center to celebrate Olga’s 104th birthday,” said Mayor Fung. “She’s lived a wonderful life and I can’t imagine all of the things that she’s seen and accomplished over her 104 years. She’s a remarkable person who clearly enjoys life to this very day.”

As the celebration continued, Susi became a bit emotional as she was treated to a showcase of some of her favorite Italian songs, performed by Michael Flynn and accompanied on the piano by John Scotti. She sang along to many of them and her family and friends sang and danced around her in celebration as well.

She beamed as “Happy Birthday” and “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” were sung in her honor and she blew out the candles on her cake, commemorating another special day in the remarkable 104 years of life for Olga Susi.