Centenarian celebrates birthday at Senior Center

Published in the July 5, 2018 edition


NORTH READING — Olive oil, garlic and spaghetti.

That’s what Carmella “Millie” Castiglione-Cacicio says has kept her going for 100 years.

“I do a lot of praying, too,” she added with a smile.

For her longevity and cheerful attitude, family members, friends and employees at the Edith A. O’Leary Senior Center were in agreement that she deserved a festive party to celebrate her birthday.

Millie rose to the occasion and wore a tiara and sash that read “100 & Fabulous.” She is that and more.

State Senator Bruce Tarr was unable to be at Millie’s party, but he sent in his place Richard Curran, his constituent services and community outreach coordinator, and Mary Ann Nay, district liaison, with a Senate Citation.

CARMELLA “MILLIE” CASTIGLIONE-CACICIO celebrated her 100th birthday at the Edith A. O’Leary Senior Center on Wednesday, June 27 with family, friends and employees of the Senior Center. Millie officially turned 100 years old on Monday, June 25. Seated, from left: Paul Servideo, John Cacicio, Millie, Sherri Greer and Rose Cacicio. Standing from left: Jan Servideo, Ron Visconti, Mary Prenney, Sue Oliva, Cindy Elmore and Jean Fitzgerald. (Gail Lowe Photo)

Curran joked with Millie: “I see that you live at Peabody Court,” he said. “Does this mean there’s a special room set aside for you at the court? Are you in the witness protection program?”

Millie’s reaction and everyone else’s: Laughter, of course.

She received several other citations, too. One was from Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker and another was from North Reading Town Administrator Michael P. Gilleberto and Board of Selectman member Robert J. Mauceri on behalf of the Board of Selectmen.

Born June 25, 1918 in the West End of Boston, Millie has seen many changes and innovations over the years, from transatlantic flights to robots that serve meals at restaurants. She has loved every minute of her long life, even during trying times like the Great Depression, as she always had her family and friends to cheer her up.

Millie was born to immigrants from Sicily and was one of nine children. Her parents did not speak English but learned the language over time.

She left school at age 16 because her family was very poor and could not afford to pay for the car fare she needed to get to school. Even so, she soldiered on.

Millie went to work at a leather shop where her job was packing leather briefcases. She would often use her wages to buy vitamins for her younger siblings and would tell them they were eating steak and potatoes so they would swallow the vitamins without complaint.

CENTENARIAN Millie Cacicio celebrates the special occasion with her son John Cacicio, left, and North Reading Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto. (Gail Lowe Photo)

When she was 18, Millie met the love of her life — Leo Cacicio. But as fate would have its way, World War II broke out and Leo was sent to war for four years. During that time, they wrote to each other to keep their relationship strong and steady.

While he was home on leave, they married on March 12, 1944 at St. Joseph’s Church in Boston’s West End.

The couple first settled there and later moved to East Boston where they raised three children. They continued to live there for 50 years until Leo passed away in 1983 at age 70.

After Leo died, Millie moved to North Reading to be closer to her family and has been a resident of Peabody Court for the past 15 years.

During her younger years, Millie worked at the Fish Pier for 10 years and later for Intercity Homecare where she took care of senior citizens until she was 80 years old. For her excellent service, she was given their Silver Service award. Ironically, just last year, Millie was the guest speaker at the Mystic Valley Elder Services’ annual Legislative Breakfast where she spoke not only of being a home care provider but a recipient of home care herself.

Over her lifetime, Millie loved to go to Suffolk Downs (horse track), bet on the daily lottery numbers and go to Foxwoods to play the slot machines. She also loves Bingo at the Senior Center.

In fact, she wouldn’t miss a Wednesday when she meets her friends for lunch and then plays Bingo. That’s exactly what she did on her birthday.

Millie often says she thanks God every day for the wonderful friends and neighbors she has met in North Reading and for Debbie Smith, who has provided her with such caring support through Mystic Valley Elder Services over the past 12 years.

The North Reading Transcript thinks she deserves a big round of applause.

Happy birthday, Millie! And many happy returns!