She was 15 when the Titanic sank, 21 when World War I started. Now, at 115 years old, the Guinness Book of World Records has declared Dina Manfredini as the oldest living person not only in Iowa, but in the entire world.
“You tell people well my grandmother is 115 years old and they go what? It’s almost like they don`t want to believe you,” said Dennis Russo, Dina’s grandson.
Russo has years of memories with his grandmother, many of them, however center around food.
“She was a tremendous cook,” said Russo, “On the holidays we would go to her house and the kids would always eat first.”
Dina doesn't cook much anymore, but her legend in the kitchen lives on. Russo has tried to duplicate it, but he says it’s nearly impossible. When he asked for her recipes, she just said, “oh I use a little bit of this and a little bit of that.”
That seems to be the perfect balance Dina has found in all aspects of her life, from work, to family, to just enjoying what life has to offer.
The Iowa Department on Aging said that seems to be case for many older Iowans.
“Working hard, living well, and living healthy: Those are the things we hear all the time from older Iowans,” said Machelle Shaffer, with the Iowa Department on Aging.
Iowa is home to 846 people who have passed that century mark.
“We have a centenarian registry that we keep updated all the time, I mean every day or every week we`ll get calls about someone new to add to the registry who are 100 or older. Right now we’re 3rd in the nation per capita with centenarians,” said Shaffer.
Now, she said, the hope is for Iowa’s younger generations to follow in their footsteps.
“It’s amazing the wisdom they`ve accumulated and what they can pass on to us,” said Shaffer.
Russo said his grandmother worked until she was about 95 year’s old, cleaning houses.
But before that she had several other jobs to support her family, including working at an ordnance plant in Ankeny during World War II.
Dina also has three children living in central Iowa. Her oldest daughter Mary is 91, Dante is 90 and Enes is 87. Her other son, Rudy, passed away in 1997 at the age of 73.
She also has a great granddaughter named after her, who is 10.