A large party played out Sunday at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Palatine. Nearly 100 people filled the first floor party room, ready to cheer when the guest of honor arrived. Sure enough, when Margaret Iosso made her entrance, the crowd erupted in cheers.

Margaret turned 100 on Dec. 27 and her large, extended family planned the special celebration to take place Jan. 7. Though they invited just over 50 guests, they figure nearly 100 people showed up to celebrate this special centenarian.

Margaret Iosso is overcome with emotion as she enters the party.

Indeed, Margaret was overcome with emotion at seeing so many people on their feet, applauding her. She tried to insist that she didn’t deserve all of the attention, but everyone knew she was thrilled to be surrounded by so many loving friends and family members.

One after the other reached out to embrace her, saying:  “Happy birthday, Aunt Marge!”

In all, five generations of Margaret’s family were on hand to celebrate, including her daughter, two grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. Many others in the crowd were cousins. Margaret grew up on Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood, the youngest of four children of Italian immigrant parents.

She married Joseph Iosso on Nov. 14, 1942 before he went off to serve in World War II. They ultimately raised their only daughter, Cheryl, in Bellwood, where Margaret worked for Illinois Bell Credit Union. Her husband died in 1981 and she has been widowed more than 40 years.

And yet, when asked what she credits her long life to, Margaret did not hesitate: “Clean living and being happy.”

Indeed, her only daughter, Cheryl Garcia of Carol Stream, pointed to her mother’s upbeat disposition as one of her strengths that definitely contributed to her longevity.

Margaret surrounded by her large, extended family

“She’s always been very positive,” Garcia said. “And she’s been involved in lots of different things, at different phases of her life. I think that made a difference.”

Margaret has lived at St. Joseph’s for four years, where the Little Sisters of the Poor make it their mission to create a culture of life, where each person is valued, and where the solidarity of the human family and the wisdom of age are celebrated.

Sr. Paul Wilson, a former Mother Superior of communities in New Orleans and Mobile, AL, stopped by the party. She was happy to comment about Margaret and their other centenarians.

“I would venture to say that they are happy, are loved and have people to love — and they want to be alive,” she said. “They feel like they are part of our family — and that makes a difference.”


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