Celebrating a centenarian: Dartmouth resident turns 100

Sep 26, 2020

How many people alive today can say they remember when electricity came to town?

Dartmouth resident Marie Andrade — who turned 100 years old on Sept. 25 — said that she remembered electricity being installed in her New Bedford neighborhood when she was four or five.

“It took like forever and ever, before they got all those wires in place,” she said. “I still remember those wires coming from the cellar up to the house. And then once we got electricity, oh my gosh, it was a different world.”

Andrade celebrated her milestone birthday with a car parade on Saturday.

“It didn’t feel exciting until they started decorating, all these flowers coming in and all that,” she said. “Then all of a sudden I said, ‘I’m a hundred! How did I get here so soon?’”

A long line of friends, family, and neighbors drove past her Smith Street home with balloons and posters, tossing gifts to the tiara- and sash-clad birthday girl and her family. One neighbor brought a plate of fresh home-grown figs.

“You don’t have a Portuguese grandmother until the neighbor brings figs,” joked Andrade’s granddaughter Christine, who organized the celebration.

“When the pandemic hit in March, I was really scared that she wasn’t gonna make it,” Christine said. The rainbow roses lining the steps to the house were Andrade’s favorite, she noted, “So I got her two dozen on her 99-and-a-half birthday.”

The centenarian lives alone in the same house she has had for sixty years, cooking, cleaning, and even getting around on her own.

“I renewed my license at 98 years old,” Andrade said proudly.

Marjie Breivogel, partner to Andrade’s son Ray, said that Andrade even occasionally paints parts of the house.

“I keep telling her, ‘You can hear better than Ray,’” said Breivogel, adding that she doesn’t wear hearing aids. “And it’s true! She’s amazing...She walks better than I do!”

Although Andrade said she used to have an active social life playing cards with friends, “I’m slowing down now, because of the virus.”

But she looked as energetic as she did in a nearby portrait of herself taken when she was 20, as her guests lined up to greet her and lay cards and other gifts at her feet.

“[She’s a] wonderful, wonderful lady,” said guest Joanne Almeida. “She’s a lot of fun!”

“She’s known me since I was born, and I’m eighty-one,” said New Bedford resident Jackie Rose, adding with a grin, “She has all her own teeth!”

When asked what her secret to longevity was, Andrade laughed. “I don’t know, I wish I could tell people!”

“A lot of red wine,” joked Ray.

“What else can I say, you know? I mean, a lot of people take care of their health, and they die very young,” said Andrade. “All I can say is, it’s a blessing from God.”

“Marie’s a special person to everybody,” said Rose. “She’s — as good as she looks, she’s good inside.”