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Vincenza Balassone Colucci, cook, supercentenarian

Vincenza Balassone Colucci, one of the world’s oldest supercentenarians, died Friday in her Niagara Falls home, surrounded by family. She was 112.

Considered a skillful seamstress, cook, and gardener, Mrs. Colucci was listed as No. 50 of 79 confirmed supercentenarians – people at least 110 years old – according to a database last updated in November. She also was also believed to be the oldest living woman in Niagara County.

She was born in Sulmona, Italy, where she met her husband, Francesco Colucci, and married in a chapel in their medieval home in Italy. She immigrated to the United States in March 1929 with her two oldest children to join her husband, who was in the United States earlier. The two settled in Niagara Falls with their five children. She lived with two daughters, Helen and Ann Colucci, in the city’s DeVeaux section since 1977. She was known as Nana Colucci by many who knew her.

Charley Passanese, her oldest grandson, said that when it came to being the classic family matriarch, she was the perfect example.

“Her reputation sort of preceded her as years went by,” Passanese said. “She was the most honest, genuine creature.”

Passanese said she was very steady, humble, and the rock of the family up until the very end.

She grew her own food, ate it, and lived a very simple life ,he said. She didn’t take any kind of medication other than baby aspirin.

She enjoyed spending summers at the family cottage and traveled to Italy and Argentina. She also enjoyed catching butterflies and visits on Sundays with her brothers over espresso and homemade biscotti. She was a fan of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.”

“The thing that made her glow the most was when she was in the presence of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great grandchildren,” Passanese said.

Her husband died in 1953.

Mrs. Colucci prayed the Rosary daily and walked to church well into her hundreds.

Survivors include two daughters, Anna Colucci and Elena Colucci; 12 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and 14 great-great grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Raphael Parish, 3840 Macklem Ave. Niagara Falls.