MetroWest Daily News: Northborough woman celebrates 103rd birthday

by Abby Jordan
4/9/09

Rose Decoteau didn’t feel her age yesterday as she celebrated her birthday by dancing with her great grandchildren, eating cake and toasting with champagne.

“I don’t feel like 103,” Decoteau said. “I’ve been lucky.”

Friends, family and local officials celebrated Decoteau’s birthday yesterday at Whitney Place in Northborough, where the longtime Marlborough resident has been living since October.

The celebration was attended by Selectman Jeff Amberson, who read a proclamation declaring yesterday as Rose Decoteau Day, state Sen. Jamie Eldridge and a representative from state Rep. Harold Naughton Jr.’s office.

When Decoteau saw Eldridge, she remarked on his height and made a move as if to step onto a nearby chair to become taller. Instead, Eldridge sat down and spoke with her.

Rose Decoteau and her twin, Annie, were born in Marlborough on April 9, 1906, to parents who emigrated from Italy around the turn of the 20th century. She was one of five children.

She worked at Diamond Shoe in Marlborough until marrying her husband, Henry E., in 1941 at the age of 35. The couple had two children, Henry B., and Paula, both of Northborough.

Decoteau attributes her longevity in part to working hard all her life – at the shoe factory, in her garden and raising her children.

“I was always a worker,” she said.

Decoteau was a longtime member of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Marlborough, where she helped run its rummage sales and was a member of the Holy Rosary Sodality.

“She does everything in moderation – except church,” said her son, Henry Decoteau. “She has a very positive attitude about life. She loves people, in particular, kids.”

In addition to her two children, Decoteau has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, including Kendra and Cole Lippert, ages 9 and 5, and Lucy and Emilia Graham, ages 3 and 1.

Her family says Decoteau was known by neighbors and townspeople who would drive by her home on Elm Street in the morning and wave as she worked in the yard or her garden.

She gardened until she was 95, and also at that age painted her porch from atop a ladder. She uses a cane occasionally, but otherwise Decoteau said she’s healthy and feels good.

“She’s an inspiration to a lot of people,” Henry Decoteau said. “She has a strong, strong work ethic and it’s served her well all her life.”