Aunt Rose Curcio: Beauty of the human spirit

Fourth and last in this series on my Italian-American great grandaunt Rose Curcio of Gloversville, Fulton County, New York, who died 15 years ago this month at the age of 105.

Since she is my family’s only centenarian, I have long wondered what there was about Aunt Rose Curcio’s life that contributed to her longevity. Now, if I had to sum up her secret in one word it would be connectedness — the strong social bonds she maintained in her community and with her family, as described in the long version of her obituary.

Rose Curcio (1992). Photo by Molly Charboneau
Rose Curcio (1992). Aunt Rosie, then 95, shared stories about our mutual ancestors and about own her life during an oral history interview with my mom and me. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Miss Curcio was a lifetime member of the Ancient Order of Foresters – Court Mayflower, an avid bridge and bingo player and a communicant of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church. Rose devoted herself to her siblings and their children and will be remembered as an energetic and dedicated woman who contributed to the greater good.

Mutual aid and social gatherings

Her Catholic church affiliation I knew about, but her membership in the Ancient Order of Foresters? This was news to me — and a bit of research turned up a 1973 article in the Gloversville-Johnstown, N.Y., Leader-Herald tracing the fraternal organization back to the days of Robin Hood!

After Robin Hood’s death in 1247, many secret clubs and societies sprang up throughout England. Robin Hood’s rough and rugged philosophy as to the rights of the common man were preached. A number of these clubs banded together at Yorkshire, England, in 1745 to establish what was known as the Royal Order of Foresters…To this day the message of the Foresters is simply, “to strive here on earth for good, to ever keep alive the cause of brotherhood.”

Aunt Rosie belonged to Court Mayflower, founded in 1909 –an auxiliary to the Gloversville Foresters Lodge, which was organized in 1898 by eight Littauer Glove Factor workers.

Part mutual aid society (providing sick pay or covering funeral costs) and part social outlet (holding card parties and dinner dances), the Gloversville Foresters – Mayflower Court gave Aunt Rosie a regular connection to her colleagues and a social gathering place in her community — strong contributors to longevity.

Enduring family ties

Aunt Rosie pursued a career and did not marry or have children. Nevertheless, she was one of 15 children — part of a large, vibrant Italian-American extended family. Rosie was a younger sister of my maternal great grandmother Mary “Mamie” (Curcio) Laurence — and she maintained close ties with her family of origin.

Rosie lived for a time with her widowed mother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio  at 128 East Fulton Street in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. Then she shared a home with one of her sisters — eventually residing in the Fulton County Health Care Facility toward the end of her life. Generations of Rosie’s family were always nearby — another important factor in a long life.

Beauty of the human spirit

And finally, from Rosie’s obituary, is this:

She was the embodiment of strength, love for life and beauty of the human spirit. At the time of her death, she was the oldest resident at the Fulton County Health Care Facility. She is survived by numerous nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews [including my mom] and great-great nieces and nephews [including me].

Her love for life and beauty of the human spirit were clearly evident when my mom and I visited Aunt Rosie, then 95, in 1992. She was upbeat, told humorous stories and had nothing but praise for the home and for her family members who regularly visited her. “They’re so good to me,” she said with a smile.

There will be more on Aunt Rosie in future posts, including some of the stories she told Mom and me during our visit.

Up next, a change of pace: November is National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), so please stop back for daily posts on the theme “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Friends and Loved Ones With You.”

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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