Artina Olivo turns 100

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Tue., Nov. 29, 2011
(L to r) Granddaughters Laura Crosetti and Linda Colangelo pose with Tina Olivo before the parade. Photos by D. Coffey.
(L to r) Granddaughters Laura Crosetti and Linda Colangelo pose with Tina Olivo before the parade. Photos by D. Coffey.

From her daughter's porch on Grove Street, Tina Olivo watched as floats were readied for Putnam's Holiday Dazzle Light Parade. The weather was warm for late November, but Olivo was dressed in a black fur coat and gloves. She wore a white scarf around her neck. On her head was the white rim of a Christmas hat, complete with holiday lights. Her family surrounded her because the parade wasn't the only celebration in town: It was Olivo's 100th birthday celebration.

Earlier that week, Olivo had received an official citation from the Connecticut General Assembly congratulating her on her 100th birthday. Gov. Dannel Malloy had issued his own congratulations on behalf of the state. On Nov. 25, state Rep. Danny Rovero (D-51) presented her with the legislative citation and gubernatorial proclamation at Westview Health Care Center, where she now resides.

Olivo grew up on a farm in Rhode Island. She worked as a buyer for a women's dress shop and at Universal Optical before retiring. She and her husband, Anthony, had two daughters. The family has grown to include eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Olivo's daughter, Helene Freuden Colangelo, sat beside her on the porch Sunday night. “There are a lot of stories here,” Colangelo said. “She's been a beautiful mother. She never denied my sister and I anything. She was always there for us.”

With her extended family around her, Olivo looked the part of proud matriarch. In her 100 years, she has loved the music of Pavarotti and Rieu, Italian food, carnations and holding hands. According to her granddaughter, she can still recite the Thanksgiving poem, “Quest,” by Eudora Bumstead. While she does little talking these days, her hands still grasp firmly to those of her family and friends.

Colangelo said her mother always opened her home to her family. “The lessons I learned from her were to be respectful and generous,” she said. “You don't need money; you need family. I had a loving mother and father. She kept the family spirit alive.”

The parade began. In front of the house where Olivo sat watching with her family and friends, one hundred candles on four layers of a huge lilac cake carried on a float were turned on. The float was dedicated to Olivo.  With her family around her, she watched as one dazzling float after another went by.

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