Oakland County jurist related to record-setter

By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

Oakland County Probate Judge Elizabeth Pezzetti and her husband, Tom, gained a bit of family fame this summer, marking their golden wedding anniversary.

It was a milestone, for sure. But 50 years of marriage somewhat pales in comparison to an even more noteworthy family occurrence this year for the distinguished Oakland County jurist.

In early December at the age of 115, a relative of her husband held the celebrated title of the "oldest person on earth."

On December 4, Dina Manfredini of Johnston, Iowa earned the ultimate senior status, becoming the world's longest living person when a Georgia woman died at age 116. Manfredini's reign in the book of "Guinness World Records" would be short-lived, however. She died the morning of December 17 at the Bishop Drumm Retirement Center, her home for the past five years.

"She was my husband's great-step-aunt and she was truly an amazing woman," said Judge Pezzetti, noting that Manfredini lived in her own home until she was a spry 110. "There almost was a sense in the family that she would go on forever."

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and for Manfredini it was with a style and a certain pizzazz that was all her own.

"We remember seeing her when she was in her 90s at her granddaughter's wedding, dancing away the evening," Pezzetti recalled. "She was always full of life. She also was an incredible cook, making Italian meals that everyone loved."

A native of Italy, Manfredini was born April 4, 1897, reportedly immigrating to the United States in December of 1920. She and her husband, Riccardo, had four children, whom she helped raise by working in several manufacturing jobs, according to a recent story in The Des Moines Register. To supplement her income at the time, she cleaned houses on the side.

"From what we've heard and read, she was still cleaning houses well into her 90s," Pezzetti said. "She apparently had to lie about her age to keep that going."

With her passing, the title of "world's oldest" reportedly now is in the hands of a Japanese man, Jiroemon Kimura, who was born 15 days after the "supercentenarian" from Iowa.

While Manfredini's stay at the top of the age ladder was relatively brief, she reportedly still will have her name in the record books as the "world's longest living immigrant." Whatever the case, she will be remembered fondly by Pezzetti and her husband, who is retired from Ford Motor Co. after a 40-year career with the giant automaker.

"She was one-of-a-kind, a woman to be admired for her work ethic and love of life," said Pezzetti.

Published: Mon, Dec 31, 2012

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