October 8, 2012

Morrisonville woman celebrates 100th birthday


---- — TREADWELLS MILL — “I never thought I’d make 100,” said Mildred “Millie” DeCelle as she sat eating lunch at her birthday party Saturday.

She wore a silver crown that sparkled with all the memories from her 100 years.

”It is an accomplishment. That’s for sure,” said DeCelle’s nephew, Richard Saukas, who traveled from Lori, N.J., for his aunt’s party.

About 50 friends and family members gathered to celebrate the milestone with DeCelle at St. Alexander’s Church in Treadwells Mill.

DeCelle is a life-long resident of the North Country. She was born Oct. 8, 1912, in Plattsburgh.

Her niece, Leonora Lawson, of Crescent Springs, Ky., attested to her aunt’s excellent health.

”All she wears are glasses. No hearing aids. No cane,” Lawson said. “I think the fact that she had a husband who loved her and took very good care of her” has helped her live so long.

But some of it is probably thanks to good genes, Lawson said. DeCelle’s two siblings, Catherine Saukas and George Frechette, both lived to the age of 90.

DeCelle still lives in the home on Main Street in Morrisonville she moved into in 1953 with her husband, Francis DeCelle.

They had been married almost 61 years when he passed away three years ago. Born in October 1920, he was eight years younger this his wife.

”I picked a younger one,” DeCelle said, laughing.

Neighbors introduced the couple in June 1948. They were married in St. Peter’s Church in Plattsburgh in November that year.

DeCelle worked as a telephone operator for New York Telephone for several years. Her husband was employed by Dorn’s Transportation for 33 years.

Although the couple had no children, they were very close to their nieces and nephews, who surrounded DeCelle at her party.

Her nephew Jim Saukas and his wife, Beverly, who planned the party, traveled from Charleston, S.C., to celebrate the occasion.

Other friends and family came from Tennessee, Massachusetts and and North Carolina.


Even at her ripe old age, DeCelle said she doesn’t need that much help.

She still does her own grocery shopping and makes trips to the pharmacy, too, Lawson said. 

”She’s got a good memory. Sound mind, body and soul,” Lawson added.

However, DeCelle doesn’t attribute her longevity to anything specific.

”I’m like that battery,” she said, referring to Energizer.

DeCelle used to crochet, but now she enjoys completing word searches and reading. And every other Tuesday she meets a few friends for lunch.

Theresa Powers of Beekmantown used to meet with DeCelle for coffee at Champlain Centre in Plattsburgh, she said.

Powers’s husband was a truck driver, like DeCelle’s husband, and he introduced the two women years ago.

”We talk on the phone a lot,” Powers said. “She was always very nice.”

”We used to walk together (in the mall) and do some window shopping.”

Powers said DeCelle, at 100, is still as sharp as she was when she met her.

”She remembers everything.”

On the table with DeCelle’s birthday cake, two framed certificates were displayed. One was signed by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

”You have witnessed great milestones in our nation’s history, and your life represents an important part of the American story,” it read. “As you reflect upon a century of memories, we hope that you are filled with tremendous pride and joy.”

As the room sang happy birthday to a beaming DeCelle, it was clear that this was true.