Wilhelmina Pignotti, known as Billie, waited many years to enjoy the irony of celebrating her 100th birthday with the salute, “Cent Anni,” a traditional Italian toast meaning “May you live 100 years!”
At last, on April 30 the toast was made in honor of the newly minted centenarian, who says, “Being 100 doesn’t feel any different.” So, cheers to Billie who continues to embrace life and, in the process is changing people’s notions of what being 100 years old is all about.
Weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday at Victory Centre of Bartlett, the senior living community where she lives, Billie, an avid golfer, plans to embark on her annual trip to Florida for the PGA golf tournament.
But before she leaves, her alma mater, Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights, will honor Billie’s birthday milestone at a ceremony at the school on May 12. Billie is the sole surviving member of the 1935 graduate class and a member of the high school’s Hall of Fame. In 2010, she was inducted for serving 18 years on the local school district’s Board of Education and for her lifelong commitment to volunteering.
Billie started helping others in high school while volunteering at an immigrant settlement. “High school years are the happiest years,” said Billie, despite being a teenager during the Depression, which meant wearing the same dress with different embellishments to several dances. Perhaps it’s because Billie met her future husband her sophomore year at Bloom. Dino was a senior basketball player nicknamed “Puggy” because of his pug nose. The two got married after “a nice courtship” and were together 54 years.
Before moving to Victory Centre of Bartlett, Billie lived in Florida where she liked to play golf and exercise. In her three years at the senior living community, Billie remains active, going to Cubs and Sox games, walking in the Alzheimer’s Walk and even attending the overnight Camp VIVA! trip.
“What’s the use in sitting around?” Billie said. “You’ve got to keep moving.” Her advice to others on how to age well is, “You just live! Think ahead, how will I act when I’m 80 years old? And so on.”
Living long may also be in her genes. Billie’s great, great aunt lived to age 107! “I did get to visit her in Lithuania before she died,” said Billie, adding that she’d like to travel more. “I still have more to see.”
About Victory Centre of Bartlett
Victory Centre of Bartlett, located at 1101 W. Bartlett Road, Bartlett, IL, features supportive and independent living apartments, three meals a day, support services as needed, wellness programs and Pathway’s innovative and award-winning VIVA! lifestyle all at an affordable monthly rate. The community is owned and operated by Pathway Senior Living. For more information, please call Victory Centre of Bartlett at 630-213-0100 or visit the website at www.PathwaySL.com.