• When Mary Milanowski was born on June 30, 1913, women in this country did not even have the right to vote. As she celebrates her 105th birthday Saturday at her home in the Residential Health Care Facility at Rome Memorial Hospital, Mary, a staunch Republican, is not only still voting, she still campaigns for many of her party’s nominees.

    Mary says she is responsible for getting out the vote for Donald Trump for many of the RHCF residents in the 2016 election. At 103, Mary put a Trump bumper sticker on the back of her wheelchair and urged her friends and neighbors to cast their vote for Trump.

    Now at 105, Mary is still passionate about politics, but also is happy to talk about what she calls a “good life.”

    Mary grew up in Rome. She is the only one surviving of her eight siblings, including three sisters, Pasqualine Grasso, Josephine Link and Anita Walker; and four brothers, Gabriell, Joseph, Anthony and Kenneth Mezza.

    Mary and her husband Frank Milanowski lived on South James Street for many years before moving to Elmer Hill Road on Lake Delta. Frank worked at Revere. The couple had chicken coops behind both residences where they raised chickens and sold eggs.

    105 Mary 
    Mary Milanowski celebrates her 105th birthday party with her nephew Jim Zakala, left, and her friend Terry Stanwix, who organized a surprise birthday party.
    Mary worked at Decker’s dress shop in Rome and later ran Kannoff’s dress shop in the old Sears plaza. Mary has fond memories of working at Kannoff’s. She explained that Mr. Kannoff saw her in town one day and said he needed her to come work for him for a little while because the women who was working for him had quit.

    “I was there 33 years,” Mary laughed. “I rearranged the store and made it beautiful. We sold everything, coats, dresses, jewelry. The store did very well and I loved it.”

    Mary still enjoys dressing up and putting on some jewelry every day.

    Mary’s nephew Jim Zakala, of Rome, has some wonderful memories of his dear aunt.

    “Growing up I will always remember my aunt as being the nicest person ever. She was like my second mom,” Jim said. “I remember every Sunday when I was young, after Mass at Transfiguration Church, she would come over to our house for hot tea and extra sharp cheese. I never drank coffee my whole life, always still drink hot tea just like we used to.”

    Although his aunt did not have any children of her own, Jim said she did like to spoil her nieces and nephews. “I still have a wind up tiger and a wind up birthday musical merry-go-round she gave me when I was very young,” he reminisced.

    Jim said that his aunt loved music and dancing. “My job Sundays was to play Polka music on the record player for her.” Mary and Frank loved to dance and, according to their family, won many dance contests. Mary said she remembers going to dances at the Masonic Home on North Washington Street. She said she and Frank really enjoyed dancing the Foxtrot and, of course, Polkas.

    “I think my Aunt Mary’s fondest memories were marrying my Uncle Frank and when they went dancing,” Jim said. Frank, who was known as “Doc,” passed away in 1998.

    “Aunt Mary and Uncle Frank also loved Cadillacs and they both always had one,” Jim added. Mary said she remembers the first Cadillac her husband bought her was a white, two seat convertible. After that she was hooked and went on to get a new Cadillac every couple of years.

    Today, in addition to her political interests, Mary enjoys watching the Yankees games and likes to participate in many of the organized activities at the RHCF. Although her hearing is failing, she is still a great story teller and enjoys talking about 105 years of fond memories.

    Jim said if he had to guess the secret of his Aunt Mary living so long it would be “because she is just a great person.”

    Mary has been a resident of the RHCF for nearly three years. Located on the third floor of Rome Memorial Hospital, the RHCF is home to those who need long-term skilled nursing care. Short-term rehabilitation and respite care is also available at the 80-bed nursing home, which has been ranked among the top 20 percent of skilled nursing facilities for four consecutive years.