Sadie DeAndrus-Kissner of Palm Harbor is known for taking things in stride and living life to the fullest.
Take her 100th birthday, for example. At HarborChase Assisted Living, where she's been a resident for three years, the centenarian celebrated with friends, family and special music the afternoon of Oct. 17 and was also guest of honor at a dinner there two days later.
According to her son, Albert Kissner of Clearwater, the former hairdresser attributes her long life to her religious faith, which continues to sustain her. She maintains a positive, happy-go-lucky attitude and sense of humor and doesn't let the little things get the better of her.
She was born Oct. 17, 1913, in Methuen, Mass., to farm owner Vincent DeAndrus and his wife, Ceceil, natives of Naples, Italy. Three of Kissner's six siblings are deceased and two brothers, 98-year-old Louie and 93-year-old Fred, both live in Hamden, Conn.
Kissner, who attended school through the seventh grade, taught herself how to sew. She made all her own clothes and earned money as a seamstress.
A 57-year resident of Hamden, she married Albert Arthur Kissner there May 8, 1953. He was employed as a factory worker at the former Safety Electric Co. of Hamden and she contributed to the household income as a hairdresser. She cooked Italian food, was an avid reader and enjoyed dancing and playing cards. In her later years, she became a Scrabble player.
Ten years after moving to Clearwater in 1980, her husband passed away at age 76.
An independent spirit, she continued working part-time until the age of 80, taking the bus where she needed to go.
Her life's joys include her only grandson whom she helped raise, Army 2nd Lt. Justin T. Kissner with the 82nd Airborne, Fort Bragg, N.C., and a much-loved English cocker spaniel named Champ.
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Melba Rilott of Palm Harbor was recently recognized by the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches for the generous support she and her late husband, Ron, have provided over the past 35 years.
The assistance has been in the form of cash and non-cash donations used to mend lives and heal the hearts of Florida's boys and girls.
Support for the organization also includes a memorial scholarship fund, established by Rilott after her husband's death, that enables deserving students to continue their education after high school.
This year the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches will serve more than 8,000 boys and girls. Its mission is to prevent juvenile delinquency and develop lawful, productive citizens through a broad range of family-centered services.
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