GV woman celebrates 100th birthday | TheUnion.com

GV woman celebrates 100th birthday

John HartVera Leone (right) celebrates her 100th birthday Tuesday at Sierra View Manor in Grass Valley with a surprise visit from her granddaughter Michelle Meneffee, 47, of Portland, Ore.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

She shares a birthday with arguably the world’s most famous physicist, a rock ‘n’ roller and The King.

While Vera Leone may not have had as eventful a life as Stephen Hawking, David Bowie or Elvis Presley, she’s had a life that has been filled with joy and contentment.

Her century on earth was celebrated in a party Tuesday at Sierra View Manor with cake, balloons, live music and a passel of longtime friends.

Asked how it felt to turn three digits old, Leone turned to a friend and said, “Just like 99 felt. I’m just very glad to be here with all my friends. They are all very special to me.”

Leone has lived so long, her husband Charles’ father was a close friend of A.P. Giannini, the Italian immigrant who founded the Bank of America, and remembers the time her husband’s father and the future banking tycoon fought over the same girl in San Francisco.

It was that long ago.

Later, Charles and Vera Leone would marry. Vera took a job at the Oakland Bank of America, where her future husband worked. As soon as the nuptials were sealed in 1922, Vera was informed of the bank’s strict code prohibiting married women from working.

And so Leone, who began working the day she graduated from high school two years earlier, left to man the homestead.

“In my day, we were taught that when we were married, we stayed home and kept house,” said Leone as acoustical guitar played and residents ate cake and ice cream.

The Lakeview, Ore., native raised one son, Douglas, and has two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Granddaughter Michelle Menefee rode the bus for 14 hours from her home in Portland, Ore. to be with her grandmother, someone Menefee considers the family’s greatest strength.

“She’s added stability to our lives,” said Menefee, who remembers Christmases where Leone would mail homemade tarts, pies and cookies as well as family heirlooms to her grandchildren each holiday.

Menefee still wears a ring her grandfather wore that was sent to her as a gift when she was a child.

“Christmas was all about Grandma,” she said.

Leone moved to Lake Wildwood to be closer to her son and has lived at the retirement home for several years.

“I feel well,” said Leone. “I’ve lived more than a full life.”

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