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News

NJ Centenarian Survives COVID, Calendar

Mary Damino
Mary Damino Photo Credit: Tony Greco for DAILY VOICE

Mary Damino of Hackensack not only survived the coronavirus – she’s lived to see 100.

Family members, close friends and staff members at the Teaneck Nursing and Rehab Center joined Damino for a triple-digit birthday celebration on Thursday. There were flowers, a cake and champagne to mark the occasion.

The youngest of five children, Damino was born on Huyler Street at a time when the life expectancy for women was a little under 62 years, nearly two years longer than men.

That same year, the late Nancy Reagan, Betty Friedan and John Glenn were born. Also born in 1921 were fashion icon Iris Apfel and Prince Philip (Queen Elizabeth II’s husband), who are both still alive.

The first Miss America pageant was held in Atlantic City in 1921. Edith Wharton became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature for “The Age of Innocence.”

Wonder Bread debuted in 1921. Cuccio Gucci began selling his handbags and Coco Chanel introduced her famed perfume. The lie-detector test, sliding garage door and National Honor Society all made their debuts.

Over well more than a half-century, Damino worked as a seamstress at several area bridal shops, among other jobs.

Nearing 70, she became a crossing guard at one of the city’s busiest intersections – Essex and State streets.

Schoolchildren and parents got to know Damino for keeping kids safe, while emergency responders rested assured that she would always clear the path to the city’s south side -- making sure no one or nothing moved an inch -- whenever they came through.

Firefighters would always exchange waves as they passed her.

Damino’s daughter, Maria, became a Fire Department dispatcher – retiring at 83 years old -- and her grandson is now a city fire captain.

Damino, meanwhile, remained an active member of a Hackensack Senior Center up until only three years ago.

Now, the golden-ager says, she keeps going for her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and many friends. They've kept her strong, she says, even through COVID.

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