MICHIGAN CITY — “Stay in love; dance; enjoy life; and have fun” – those are words of wisdom from 105-year-old Adelaide Farina.
On June 7, the day before her actual birthday, Adelaide enjoyed celebrating the very special milestone with the other residents of Rittenhouse Village in Michigan City.
Born in Odell, Illinois, in 1914, Adelaide Martinal moved to Valparaiso, where she was raised on the family farm. While working in banking there, she met her future husband, Dominic Farina, while he was in law school. After he completed his service in the Army during World War II, they were married on Jan. 6, 1945, and moved to New Buffalo, Michigan.
There, Adelaide led a productive life as a banker, serving for a time as president of New Buffalo Savings Bank. She worked until her late 90s, while Dominic practiced law until age 94. They’d been married for 73 years when he passed away at the age of 100 years and eight months on Dec. 31, 2017. He was also a resident at Rittenhouse Village at the time.
Adelaide and Dominic enjoyed traveling across the country and world, including Hawaii, China, Mexico, Spain and Greece. His family was from Italy and hers from Switzerland – her favorite place to visit. The couple also looked forward to winter trips to Acapulco, where they met lifelong friends whom Adelaide still corresponds with today.
The Farinas raised three boys and one girl: Richard, Ronald, Paul and MaryAnn (Vanderbrook), who are all still living. MaryAnn and Ronald live in New Buffalo, while Richard resides in Virginia, and Paul in Ohio. Adelaide has six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, including a set of twin boys.
“I’ve had a wonderful life and family and husband,” she said. “I’ve been blessed.”
“Adelaide is always happy no matter what,” Jamie Slutzkin, director of recreation at Rittenhouse, said. “She’s a go-getter ... very energetic. She comes out for just about everything. I love to listen to the amazing stories of what she’s been through.”
Bowling was a favorite pastime for Adelaide and Dominic. On a local league, she once received a “600 Pin” award. Needlepoint and crochet were other favorite hobbies, and she once crocheted a challenging “popcorn” pattern bedspread.
MaryAnn said her mother “loves to play Bingo” at Rittenhouse, and also enjoys “social bus rides and eating ice cream (her favorite is strawberry) with the ladies.”
Chris O’Connell has enjoyed getting to know Adelaide, a “neighbor” to her 86-year-old mother, Patricia Bracken, at Rittenhouse.
“She’s been such an inspiration to me for my mother as I try to keep her motivated. It’s just cute how the two have formed a friendship,” O’Connell said. “They tell each other they love each other. She goes by her room each morning to see if she’s ready for breakfast. I can only hope that if I live that long I will be as energetic as her.”
Adelaide was honored and awed by all the well-wishers at the party.
“I’m floored,” she said. “It’s such an exciting event.”
April Dillingham, one of her caregivers, has been inspired by Adelaide in the two years she’s known her.
“I’ve cared for a lot of people, and she’s amazing. It’s everything – her age, her agility and her mind,” Dillingham said. “She gets up at 5 a.m. and walks faster than anyone in this place. She remembers her family home and places she’s worked. Her work ethic is superior. There are days when I forget she’s over 104 years old.”
Adelaide didn’t offer any secrets to a long life, though she did mention “hard work,” “a good work ethic,” and “keeping busy”; as well as advocating “good clean living.” She still participates in a daily exercise group.
And, “she isn’t on any medications – it’s amazing,” MaryAnn said.
Her son, Paul, who was in attendance with his wife, Anna, said, “How many superlatives can you use to describe someone who’s 105? One of her favorite expressions is ‘Prayers are better than medicine.’ That’s probably the secret to her reaching 105. That pretty much sums it up.”
“She’s such a graceful lady – so kind, so grateful and so thankful for all she’s had,” Dillingham said. “I feel humbled and honored to care for her. What a gift from God. I learn something every time I’m here. There’s a reason she’s still here.”