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6 Centenarians at Regina Health Center Celebrate 600+ Years

6 Centenarians at Regina Health Center Celebrate 600+ Years

When Regina Health Center resident Alice Seymour turns 100 on March 18, she becomes the youngest member of what has typically been an exclusive group. Not this year. Alice will be one of six residents who are all over 100.

It’s a first for Regina Health Center to be home to so many residents who are members of the centenarian club. “We’ve previously had one or maybe two residents at a time who were 100 or more. This is really exciting and a big deal to have six residents who were all born more than 100 years ago,” said Vicky Putt, director of activities, Regina Health Center.

Regina Health Center will host a special centenarian celebration on April 12 with the six 100+-year-old residents, their families and staff. Richfield Mayor Michael Wheeler will also be at the celebration to offer proclamations honoring their 600+ years of life. To add some perspective around the group being honored, they all lived during the early years of Prohibition. Around the time they were born, the first Winter Olympic Games were held in France and the first-ever crossword puzzle was published by Simon & Schuster.

Maintaining a Sense of Humor
The eldest of the group, Bernice Raineri, will turn 102 on April 22. For many years before becoming a resident at Regina Health Center, Bernice was a volunteer, serving as the sacristan every day at Mass and then serving as a Eucharistic minister. She enjoys reading and playing board games with fellow residents and family – which includes five children, nine grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. Bernice also maintains a sense of humor. When asked for advice on how to live past 100, she simply said, “Don’t die.”

Treat Everyone with Kindness
Alice is the youngest member of the group, but she still has sage advice on how to reach the century mark. “Treat everyone with kindness and be yourself,” she said.

After receiving a degree in education from Notre Dame College, Alice taught elementary school at St. Cecilia School on Cleveland’s East Side. Her career changed from elementary school teacher to full-time homemaker and caregiver to her family, including her husband Douglas and three children. Unfortunately, her husband passed away at the age of 45.

Family has always been very important to Alice, and she now has nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Her daughter Jackie Piscura said she and her siblings benefited greatly by having their mother’s undivided attention, which provided protection and security in their home life.

“There are earthly rewards publicly seen and announced and there are unseen rewards declared by the benefactors. But God sees and so do we,” she said. “We are the benefactors and recognize our mom who has endured in life, in character and strength, which gives us all hope to continue her legacy of care and love for her family. She is our connection and we continue in family unity because of her love.”

The second oldest of the centenarian club at Regina Health Center, Renata “Rina” DiFranco Strizzi will turn 102 in October. Rina was born in Naples, Italy, in 1922 and immigrated to Cleveland in 1939 with her sister and father. She attended Audubon Junior High School on the City’s near East Side, where she learned to read, write and speak English. Her mother, two sisters and a brother followed several years later, after the end of World War II.

Share Boundless Love
Rina married U.S. Navy Seaman William Strizzi in 1942. For 35 years, she worked at General Electric’s Euclid Lamp Plant, retiring in 1983 at the age of 60. In between, she had a daughter and a son, and now has six grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She attributes her longevity to her faith, keeping busy, helping others, and “sharing her boundless love with family and friends.”

Aileen Norton, who turned 100 in 2023, was an organist for 65 years, playing at several Catholic churches, the Cleveland Hopkins Airport Chapel and Larchwood Place Nursing Home. She received an accounting certificate from Western Reserve University in 1943 and held a variety of jobs, including as a steno clerk at the General Motors Tank Plant in Brook Park, Ohio, which is now the I-X Center exhibition center. She has always had a knack for music, performing in the lead role in “The Fortune Teller” and “Babes in Toyland” Operettas with Arthur Murray Dancers when she was in her 50s.

Libby Kaczynski will turn 101 on May 8. She graduated from John Adams High School in Cleveland in 1941 and the Wilcox College of Commerce on Public Square in Cleveland in 1945. Her daughter, Pam Rama, said she was a loving mother, homemaker and worked outside of the home at Cook United (discount department store chain) and Higbee’s Department Store in Cleveland. Later in life, she quilted baby blankets for children born at Bethesda Hospital in Boynton Beach, Florida, spending hundreds of volunteer hours doing so.

Love for a Good Party
Known around Regina Health Center as the “bingo queen,” Helen Herman will turn 101 on June 8. Her son Larry Herman said his mother “loves a good party and celebration,” so she’s looking forward to her 101st birthday. “When she turned 100 last year, she was able to enjoy the festivities all day without slowing down,” he added.

Helen graduated from South High School in Youngstown, Ohio and was married in 1943. She has seven children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. While being a full-time mother, she sold greeting cards to friends and acquaintances to supplement the family income.
As the children become older, she began working as a server for a number of years at the Charterhouse Restaurant in Euclid and the Manakiki Country Club in Willoughby. She went on to obtain her real estate license and spent more than 20 years as a real estate agent. Later in life, she became a secular sister and member of the 3rd Order of St. Francis. “Her religious faith and upbringing are a central part of her life. She has visited many religious sites around the world, including the Holy Land,” said Larry.

“We can’t wait to celebrate the remarkable lives of these six residents and the unique feat of having so many centenarians who call Regina Health Center home at the same time,” said Melysa Foster, Regina Health Center community relations director.