Happy 100th birthday, Gertrude

by Sharlene Irete


Gertrude Battista was born Concetta Dalvano on Aug. 27, 1909, in New York City and will celebrate her 100th birthday Thursday having dinner with her family and playing slot machines at the Carson Valley Inn.

"I took 'Gertrude' as my confirmation name and then wanted to keep it as my name when I got married," she said.

Gertrude likes watching Animal Planet and the Food Network stations. Her favorite TV cooks are Rachel Ray and Paula Deen.

"She can cook," Gertrude said about Deen.

Until recent health problems made it hard to get around, Gertrude lived with her son Doug Battista and his wife Sally in Gardnerville. She moved into Evergreen Healthcare in Gardnerville two years ago.

Gertrude was married to Tony Battista who died when the youngest of his two sons was 2 years old.

"He was Italian and he was great. He looked like you," Gertrude said to her son Doug Battista.

"I've had some very good days and some very sad days. I had a good life regardless if I lost my husband at 40," she said. "He died young, but I was left with two good boys."

Doug said his mother would say the secret to her long life is hard work.

"She took care of her family and worked two jobs after my father died," he said. "She drew support from her large Italian family.

"She worked all day, came home, cooked and worked in the garden. She loved her flowers and lawn. We had a peach tree that had so many peaches, she would put up 100 jars and the family ate peaches all winter," Doug said.

Gertrude worked for Estee Lauder for 11 years in charge of quality control.

"It paid off and we always smelled beautiful. Every day was a different perfume," she said. "I was a hard-working girl, but I was forced to retire at 65.

"I became a nanny for a family who gave me the honor of holding their grandchildren. I was 'Grandma B.' I was their family."

Gertrude's own grandchildren are Delaney Battista, 20, and Beau Battista, 17.

"I knew my mother would live to be 100," said Doug. "She's strong mentally and determined. She wanted to watch her grandkids graduate from high school."

Gertrude said she could attribute her 100 years to living her life as an old-fashioned woman, cooking like her mother, and living life day by day.

"I loved being with my family," said Gertrude, the third of 13 siblings. "I don't look for fanciness. My son brought me eggplant parmesan today - it brings you home.

"My life went on very nice. It was pleasant but I'd hate to see it end for me. Your children get older and you want to be there."

From Delaney Battista's 2007 school essay about her grandmother:

"Concetta Lucy 'Lou-Lou' Dalvano Battista, who goes by Gertrude because she 'always liked the name,' was born 98 years ago in New York City. 'That was hot stuff,' she recalls about being raised in the Big Apple, the diversity capital of the world in the early 20th century. Her parents were Ellis Island immigrants from Naples, Italy, and started a family of 10 daughters and three sons as soon as they arrived in America. 'That was all we had, each other. There was none of this computer business and cell phone nonsense to get in the way. We had to work together and love each other to survive because that's all that mattered.'"

Born in 1909:

Benny Goodman

Burl Ives

Carmen Miranda

Clyde Barrow

David Niven

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Elia Kazan

Errol Flynn

Eve Arden

Hugh Beaumont (Beaver's dad)

James Mason

Jessica Tandy

Max Baer

Ruby Keeler

Victor Borge

Vivian Vance


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment