By Steve Sears
Denville’s Anne Grasso describes how she felt when she awoke on the morning of November 14, 2020, when she turned 100 years of age.
“I woke up thinking how happy I was and said to myself, ‘Great! I Really made it!’”
Indeed, she has. A belated, Happy 100th Birthday to you, Anne.
The chef at The Oaks of Denville prepared a celebratory cake, and residents were able to come and got a piece of cake to take back to their room. Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s Parish with her immediate family and some friends from The Oaks. “My daughter (Karen) even played the piano!” Grasso exclaims.
In summation, she says, “I was able to share my 100th with people special to me, so now I am living day to day and enjoying life.”
Anne Grasso was born in Newark. The daughter and the fifth of six siblings of Italian immigrants, she was baptized in beloved St Lucy’s Church, also in Newark. “My dad died when I was 8 and my mother died when I was 24,” says Grasso, recalling her childhood. “My older brother Nick was the father image in our family. My younger sister Rose is the only one living. I attended Franklin grammar school and graduated from Central High School.” She and her husband, Michael, were married in Sacred Heart Church (pre-Basilica Cathedral) in 1951. Michael died in 1995. “We adopted 3 children from Catholic Charities: Karen, Michael and Marianne.” Grasso then adds proudly, “I have 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.” Grasso first worked as a legal secretary, but she desired her dream job: to be a teacher. “I completed my college degree from Newark State, going to night school and on Saturdays while raising 3 children,” she says.
Grasso is not an active parishioner at St Mary’s, but knows Pastor Father Martin Glynn from when he comes to celebrate Mass at The Oaks. “Before COVID-19, I attended St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mountain Lakes,” Grasso says. “The Oaks has a shuttle bus that takes me there on Sundays.”
Grasso attributes her longevity to her genes and always being active. “I love walking, I read a lot, play bridge, puzzles and games with my grandkids and great grandkids. I used to sew, knit, and crochet, and always enjoyed baking. My family knows me for my Italian knot cookies and coconut custard pies. My favorite TV show is Jeopardy, and I am a devoted Yankee fan. In fact, when the Yankees start losing, I turn the TV off because it makes me nervous. I also love my Italian pasta.” Grasso also does her best to keep up with modern technology. “I have an email account and an iPhone, and know how to work a DVR!” she states proudly.
Anne Grasso reflects briefly on what has given her the most satisfaction during her long life. “I am happiest that I had the opportunity to be a mother. I am proud of my hard work and determination in becoming a teacher.”