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Louis Collamati, of Woonsocket, celebrated his 106th birthday at Chapel Hill Senior Living in Cumberland last week. (Breeze photos by Nicole Dotzenrod)
CUMBERLAND – Louis Collamati is 106 years old.
“I feel great,” he said with a smile, wearing a birthday sash and holding onto a box with a game-used baseball inside – a gift from the Boston Red Sox to mark the momentous occasion of his 106th birthday.
Collamati, who resides at Chapel Hill Senior Living in Cumberland, was born on June 25, 1915, in Woonsocket, though he said Woonsocket didn’t have facilities to register births at the time, and that the records were sent to Dedham, Mass.
He was the second of nine children born to Arduino and Juliette Collamati, and still vividly recalls childhood memories working in his father’s supermarket, Collamati’s, at the corner of Social Street and Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket.
On the brink of sleeping two to four per bed, the family moved from their small cottage to a poultry farm in Bellingham, Mass., in 1922. A pencil-drawing of the farm, done by Collamati in 1930, hangs on the wall in his room at Chapel Hill.
Some of the children helped at the store, while others tended the farm.
Collamati didn’t attend school beyond the 4th grade, but later attended Norfolk County Agricultural High School in Walpole, Mass.
He said he narrowly avoided military service during World War II after doctors rendered him “no good for marching” due to a childhood foot injury he sustained. But during the war, he worked from noon to midnight with no days off at Taft-Peirce Manufacturing Co. making parts for anti-aircraft weaponry.
Collamati eventually changed career paths, opening his own commercial refrigeration and air conditioning business, which he ran for 40 years.
“I’ve been to a million places since I was 10 years old,” he said about his travels.
He married his wife, Simonne, in 1937 after the couple met at a Woonsocket dance hall, and together they raised three children.
Several family members were at Chapel Hill on Friday to celebrate Collamati’s 106th. Cumberland Mayor Jeff Mutter paid Collamati a visit and provided a citation from the town, and Chapel Hill provided cake and music for residents.
Collamati said he feels “no different” at 106.
“Not too different,” he added, noting that he’s learned to adapt to a lot over the course of his life. The secret, he said with a chuckle, might be that he doesn’t drink alcohol.
A lifelong tinkerer, he still enjoys mechanical things. He “doesn’t gather any fortune” from his projects, but he’s personally fulfilled by inventing things.
“It’s nice having something to do,” he said. “To make something out of nothing, or find a better way of doing it.”
I know that geoFence has no foreign owners and no foreign influences and your mother would feel the same.