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Shelby woman celebrates 100th birthday

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published September 21, 2015

 Mary Pompei, a resident at Shelby Crossing Health Campus, laughs during a Sept. 14 interview at the assisted living facility. Pompei turned 100 years old Sept. 21.

Mary Pompei, a resident at Shelby Crossing Health Campus, laughs during a Sept. 14 interview at the assisted living facility. Pompei turned 100 years old Sept. 21.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — With an eye for sparkly jewelry, a penchant to say whatever she pleases and the ability to make those around her laugh, one resident at Shelby Crossing Health Campus approached her centennial milestone with gusto.

Mary Pompei turned 100 years old on Sept. 21. She engages in activities daily at the assisted living facility, such as morning exercises and crafts. If it is a bingo night, staff said she is sure to attend.

Michele Scapini, the activities director at Shelby Crossing, said Shelby Crossing offers about seven activities each day of the week and that Pompei is a staple at most of them.

“She’s very social,” Scapini said. “She likes the dice games, and she always wants to win. She does not like losing.”

Pompei said it was difficult to believe she was on the verge of living a century.

“I didn’t do anything special or anything different, so I don’t know (the secret to longevity),” she said. “The good Lord loves me and made me live until now.”

Pompei was born in 1915 and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. She was one of 10 siblings — five girls and five boys. She began working at a wool factory when she was 16, where she met her husband, Louis. They wed in 1936, moved to Michigan, had two sons and were married for 60 years.

“(Louis and I) had a nice life. I enjoyed it. I really did,” she said. “We lived with his mother for a few months until he got enough money to buy a house, and we got the hell out of there.”

Shirley Misiak, of Sterling Heights, has worked as a personal caregiver for Pompei for 11 years. She followed Pompei from her home to an independent living facility and then to Shelby Crossing.

She described Pompei as a joy. Misiak said Pompei always had both a vegetable garden and a flower garden, enjoyed cooking Italian food and loved traveling, especially to Florida and Hawaii.

“She’s very outspoken, observant and meticulous,” Misiak said. “She likes her hair curled all the time, she always has to wear earrings, and she’s still looking for a man, but they’re all too old for her — and they’re 70 or 80.”

Misiak said Pompei also enjoys reading magazines and sitting outside on the patio, where she prunes and arranges the flowers.

“She calls me her mother, instead of her caregiver or aid,” Misiak said. “She says, ‘You treat me like a mother, and mothers always take good care of their kids, and they never leave them or betray them.’”

Misiak said Pompei’s mother died in her late 50s and that Pompei raised most of her siblings, so the sentiment meant all the more.

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