100-year-old’s secret: oatmeal
Connie Ferolo with her son George Ferolo at her 100th birthday party April 27, 2012 at her daughters home in Elmwood Park. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:06AM
While others try gadgets, vitamins and diets to live a long life, Connie Ferolo of Elmwood Park has the answer.
Every morning for as long as she can remember she has started her day with a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of orange juice — that’s the secret, she says.
Ferolo celebrated her 100th birthday on April 27.
Besides eating oatmeal everyday — a feat that recently earned her a certificate of merit from Quaker Oats — she has a few other rules that helped her reach the century mark.
“I don’t fool around, don’t drink and don’t smoke,” she said confidently.
The entire month of April has been a celebration in a sense. The family, with Ferolo’s brother Albert, 87, and sister Rosemary, 83, her three children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren along with nieces, nephews cousins and the extended family, had a big party in her honor April 1 at a banquet hall in Schiller Park.
“She is the matriarch,” said daughter Judy Swider. “We’re so proud that she has accomplished this milestone in her life.”
“It was wonderful,” Ferolo said. “I didn’t expect it.”
She has received accolades and well wishes from friends, family and celebrities, and she even appeared on local TV news.
The village plans to officially recognize her.
“If somebody would have told me she was 100 years old, I would have never believed it,” said Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri. “She has a lot of spunk.”
Ferolo grew up in Chicago and graduated from Medill High School. She fondly recalls going to camp every summer in Waukegan as a teen. She loved swimming.
During her hundred-year run, along with raising a family with her husband, George, who is deceased, she also owned her own restaurant and has worked several other jobs.
“I would have loved to go to college, but my father couldn’t afford it,” she said. She wanted to study to be an actress or dancer.
The majority of her career she worked as a court clerk for Cook County Clerk’s office for 32 years.
She has no regrets and feels blessed for the many years she’s lived. “I pray every day and thank God,” she said.
Ferolo lives with her daughter, Judy Swider, in Elmwood Park for 12 years. To get to medical appointments, she needs assistance to get down the stairs of her home because she has trouble walking.
“Elmwood Park paramedics have helped us numerous times,” Swider said. “They’ve helped her down the stairs. She has a real bad fear of falling.”
Swider’s husband pitches in too.
“My husband is here during the day and then I come home and take care of her,” Swider said. “She’s with me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
She’s lost a lot of friends of friends over the years, but feels lucky that she has made some new ones along the way.
She has no time for new boyfriends.
“There was only one man in my life and he died on me,” she said of her late husband, George.
Three of her daughters are deceased, but she keeps three ceramic angels in her bedroom in remembrance of them. She said they were at her big birthday party as well.
“She told me to get the angels and bring them to the party,” Swider said.
Ferolo is still social and she likes to get out when she’s able, such as going to the casino. She wouldn’t mind taking in a Cubs game or a concert.
She hopes she will remain strong and live several more years because she is not done living.
“Not too many can say they have their mother with them at 100 years old,” said her daughter.