ɫ̳

Skip to content
Great-great-granddaughter Kaydance helps Edie Ceccarelli blow out her birthday candles. (Photo by Aura Whittaker/The Willits ɫ̳)
Great-great-granddaughter Kaydance helps Edie Ceccarelli blow out her birthday candles. (Photo by Aura Whittaker/The Willits ɫ̳)
Author
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

For 116 years, Edith “Edie” Ceccarelli called Willits home, and Willits called her their own.

“Edie is truly a beloved person of our community and an inspiration to all,” 3rd District Supervisor John Haschak said when the town celebrated her 115th birthday in February of 2023. “She was dancing and living on her own until not too many years ago. She is a living testimony to the quality of life and clean air and water in Willits and Mendocino County.”

Within the past two years, Ceccarelli became not only the oldest living person in California, but the oldest living person in the United States – the only other living person older than her was another woman born in Northern California: Maria Branyas Morera, who now lives in Spain, and will turn 117 on March 4.

However, last Thursday, Ceccarelli died at the Holy Spirit Residential Care Home just two weeks after her 116th birthday.

Holy Spirit Residential Care Home owners Perla and Genaro Gonzalez enjoy the parade with Edie Ceccarelli on her 114th birthday in 2022. (Photo by Jaclyn Luna/The Willits ɫ̳)
Holy Spirit Residential Care Home owners Perla and Genaro Gonzalez enjoy the parade with Edie Ceccarelli on her 114th birthday in 2022. (Photo by Jaclyn Luna/The Willits ɫ̳)

“I miss her already,” said family member Evelyn Persico on Monday, describing Ceccarelli as having “loved her birthday party” held on Sunday, Feb. 4.

When asked if she thought it was possible that Ceccarelli was hanging on so she could enjoy another birthday, which Willits has been celebrating with parades by her home the past several years, Persico said it was “very possible, and I did wonder that myself.”

When Edie turned 115, officials at Adventist Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits described her in a Facebook post as a “supercentenarian — someone who has reached the age of 110 and over. Born in Willits on Feb 5, 1908, on Flower Street (which now serves as Highway 20) and just a mere 20 years old when our hospital opened in 1928, (she went on to) become a local celebrity to all those who know and love her. When asked what the secret to a long life is, she stated a few things over the years, such as being content with what you have, being blessed to live a life of happiness and notably the most entertaining— to mind your own business.”

The post also explains that “some say to live this long you either need to have good genes or a healthy lifestyle, but in this case, Gerontology experts say you really have to have both.”

As for local services for Ceccarelli, Persico said they are still being planned and that she will provide more details once they are confirmed.

More in ɫ̳ Obituaries