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Stella Marziali is turning 110!!
A remarkable Lady - A remarkable Life

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Stella was born in 1904 on Italy's Adriatic Coast in the LeMarche region. This is one of the most beautiful regions of the country yet is among the Italian regions least visited by foreign tourists.

Even today Stella talks about the joy of growing up on a farm on the coast with three brothers and a sister. She is such a great story teller, no need for story books as her children (and later her grandchildren and great grandchildren) were memorized by the tales of her adventures. These adventures usually involved her brothers, her sister and all of the uncles, aunts and cousins that lived in the region.

Luigi Marziali also lived in the area but he immigrated to Canada in 1922 via steam ship landing in St. John New Brunswick. Three years later he returned to Italy and married Stella but he returned to Canada later that year, leaving his new bride behind. His goal was clear, to earn enough money to establish a home and have his wife join him to begin their new life in a new country. He had traveled west to Ontario, eventually landing in St. Mary's and a job with the St Mary's Cement Company. Four years later Stella boarded a steamship destined for Elis Island in New York. Once she was admitted, she then traveled by train, crossing the border at Fort Erie where Luigi anxiously awaited her arrival. From there he brought her to St Mary's where she would call home for the next 86 years.

A few years later, they moved into a company house with two other families all from the same region of Italy and all got along well. Each family had their own kitchen and bedrooms in this one house. One of the families just could not adapt as they just were so home sick. Eventually they returned to Italy while the other two families stayed and remained lifelong friends. The Marziali family had grown to 4 with son Tanner and Daughter Elsa.

The two families shared a huge garden and a cow for milking. Because their lives were so closely intertwined, Italian remained their language of choice. Consequently, Stella never did learn to read or write English.

The Marziali family moved out of the St Mary's Cement Company house in 1943 when Luigi purchased their first home.

There is more to the story about this house the family called home for those 14 years.

In 1994 the St Mary's Cement Company donated 32 acres of land which included the original Marziali homestead to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1998, their house opened its doors and to this day is the museum for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. If you are a baseball fan but have never visited the Hall of Fame, we recommend you do so. It is amazing!

Life was good for the family, based on strong Christian values and a commitment to the family, the church and to the neighbourhood. Stella was then and is today devoted to her faith, constantly reading her Italian prayer books. She loved to help other and in turn so many did kind deeds for her and the family.

Tanner had left St Mary's to work for the CNR in Train operation and Accounting which he did for 10 years. In 1950 he joined the Bank of Montreal and worked there for 32 years in numerous positions including Area Manager for London core and Manager of London Private Banking Unit.

Luigi and Stella's daughter, Elsa is a Professor at the University of Toronto and a member of the Faculty of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry and the Faculty of Medicine. She is also a Senior Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute - Baycrest in Toronto.

Both Tanner and Elsa would return to spend time with their mother and father in St Mary's whenever possible and as their families grew, Stella made it very clear that they were to visit frequently. Stella had strong opinions on adult and children deportment: Always dress appropriately, attend church every Sunday, do well in school, help others, be honest and above all do as requested or suggested by her!! (suggested or instructed?)

Stella was so proud of Tanner and Elsa BUT their lifestyles were often the target of Stella's strong opinions even as the two “children” approached retirement themselves. She had plenty to say to them about their life styles and how they spent far too much money on the non-essentials and they certainly travelled too much while they should be saving for their old age. When it came to those matters the “kids” were not near as smart as she was, just ask her!

Despite her strong opinions, her unwavering love and support for her family is her greatest quality. Among those special, memorable occasions were when the family would gather for Sunday dinner which she cooked well into her 90's. And no one left empty handed as there was always just enough leftover that all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren departed for home with a bulky care package.

In 2004, Stella Marziali reached the milestone - 100years of age! Among the many gifts and tributes, Stella received personally signed certificates from Pope John Paul II as well as Prime Minister Paul Martin.

This September Stella Marziali becomes what is known as a Supercentenarian which is a person 110 years of age. She is one of just 3 people living in Ontario to reach this remarkable milestone.

Recently, when asked about the secret to her longevity, she attributes it to a healthy (Mediterranean diet), also being on the move - walking to and from town, and staying active with cooking, baking, knitting and crocheting. Her decades of volunteer work with the church gave her tremendous gratification, another contributor to a happy and healthy life.

Stella now resides at the Mount Hope Nursing Home where she is very content and even now with her diminished memory she always asks about the welfare of all grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Happy 110th Birthday Stella Marziali and God Bless.