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2/9/2012 9:30:00 AM
Centenarian plans his next decade
Mr. Colangelo on his 100th birthday.
Mr. Colangelo on his 100th birthday.

John Colangelo and his golf buddies often "complain that 'the old guys' in front of them are slow," according to Mr. Colangelo's eldest granddaughter.

The recipients of those complaints probably don't realize that Mr. Colangelo turned 100 in November. The centenarian golfs nearly every day in good weather - he made his first hole-in-one last year - and still takes care of the Amsterdam home he's inhabited for 40 years.

"I do all my work," Mr. Colangelo told The Evangelist. "I do all my laundry, everything."

On Sundays, he also serves as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist at St. Mary's parish in Amsterdam, a job he's done for more than 50 years.

"I just like serving God," he said. "I enjoy it."

Mr. Colangelo stopped counting the collection and being a greeter a few years back, "but he's always available to serve," said sacristan George Schuttig. "He offers to [distribute] communion even when he's not scheduled. He's kind of exemplary in the faith."

God, wine and fish
There are three steps from the nave to the altar, Mr. Schuttig said, and "he just flies right up those steps. He's very active. We kind of kid him and say, 'What's the secret?'"

Mr. Colangelo's answer? "God's will, I guess.

"A lot of work around the house" doesn't hurt, he added - along with eight ounces of red wine at lunch every day and fish twice weekly, preferably broiled haddock and poached salmon.

Mr. Colangelo retired in 1979 from 43 years as the owner of Johnny's Seafood, a deli and fish fry place that stood across the street from St. Mary's parish until 1985. Before that, he'd cooked for a diner and the old Home Dairy Cafeteria. An accent lingers from his native Italy; he came to the U.S. in 1926, when he was just 15.

Annette Noce, his eldest granddaughter, says Mr. Colangelo's faith keeps him going. After losing his second child to a car accident decades ago and losing his wife, Rita, four years ago, he's grateful for his five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. The youngest is about to turn four.

"I think he feels he's been blessed," Mrs. Noce said. "He's all about family. He's all about his faith in God. He's caring and loving - just amazing."

Mrs. Noce says her grandfather attends her teenagers' lengthy dance recitals, sporting events, musicals and concerts. He takes her sons golfing one at a time - and complains if their abilities exceed his.

Family focus
Mr. Colangelo used to ferry great-grandchildren to preschool; he still babysits and occasionally picks up his great-grandsons from school in his 1985 Oldsmobile. He's never had an accident.

"He's the center of the circle," Mrs. Noce said. "You call him for everything and he'll be there," even to unclog a sink or help paint a room.

Mr. Colangelo often travels to visit his other grandchildren in Rome, N.Y., and Connecticut; he's currently in Florida with his son and daughter-in-law. He proudly displays articles from the local newspaper about his great-grandchildren.

"I know all their names and everything," he boasted. "I know all their birthdays; I've got them all marked on the calendar."

Mrs. Noce's son chose Mr. Colangelo, whom they call Poppie, to be his confirmation sponsor next spring.

"To my kids, Poppie is their grandfather," Mrs. Noce said.

Forward, march
In 2005, Mr. Colangelo told The Evangelist in an interview that he aimed to live until 110. Does he still have that goal?

"Yup," he said. "I used to kid my wife all the time. [The doctor] says, 'The way you go, maybe even longer than that.'"

Mrs. Noce worries about her grandfather when he flies to Florida, but he's never nervous and doesn't want a wheelchair. His medical alert anklet was only used once - by accident.

"I was painting in front of my house" when ambulances bounded onto his property, Mr. Colangelo recalled. "I told them, 'What are you looking for, next door?'"

When the paramedics explained the button must have been pushed, "I said, 'I'm glad it's working.'"

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