Alfonso De Marco

 

From the Daily Mail 26 Apr 2009

Alfonso De Marco has lived in the same house for 100 years after arriving in England from Italy as a seven year-old. Mr De Marco, who lives in Eastbourne, East Sussex, was born in Italy in 1902 but moved to England when he was seven when Edward VII was on the Throne and Manchester United won the FA Cup for the first time.

When he turned 100, Mr De Marco received a certficate from the Pope, the equivalent of a 100 year old receiving a telegram from the Queen.He is now an avid fan of north London team Tottenham Hotspur, and has Spurs memorabilia all over the walls of his house.And he has vowed he will never live anywhere else

item1Mr De Marco is pictured (left) with a certificate sent to him by Pope John Paul II, while (right) his father stands outside the same Eastbourne address in 1919 Photo: M&Y

Mr De Marco was born (in Picinisco) near the southern Italian city of Cassino in 1902 before moving to Eastbourne to join his father Guiseppe who had relocated to East Sussex in 1885. They ran an ice cream parlour from the same seaside building Mr De Marco still calls home.

Upon turning 100 – and receiving a certificate from Pope John Paul II – Mr De Marco was offered the chance to live with one of his three daughters; Pierina Caira, 78, Elisa Fieldwick, 74, and Anita Dipilla, 62, but he turned them down. The great-great grandfather said: "I love it here, it is my home. I could have moved somewhere else but I have never wanted to. My daughters have asked me to move in with them, but I am happy here.

"The street has changed a lot since I was a boy. I remember seeing horses pulling carts up and down this street, and smelling chestnuts being roasted. It is different now, it is much noisier, but I still love it – there are a lot of memories for me in this house. My daughters grew up here, and my father lived here, so I cannot imagine living anywhere else, or anywhere better."

The house has barely changed since Alfredo first moved in with its Victorian wood-panelled exterior and single-glazed windows. Inside, memorabilia of Alfredo's beloved Tottenham Hotspur and photographs of the family tracing right back to the early 1900s cover the walls. Apart from brief stint doing National Service in his native Italy with the prestigious Bersagliere regiment apart, Alfredo has lived and worked in Eastbourne for the last century.

Daughter Elisa added: "The De Marco family has been in this building almost 125 years, and even though the rest of the road has changed and become more like a shopping precinct, our little house remains the same as it always was.

"The house is like another member of the family, really. My sisters and I all grew up here and the whole family has a great connection with the place – we all still come round here for Christmas to see him and to be in the house. Dad is not interested in moving - this used to be his ice cream parlour so he is comfortable with his surroundings and the house is really an extension of him now. He goes into respite care every six weeks, but he is always desperate to get home."

Alfonso's eldest daughter Pierina added: "It is incredible that he has lived here for so long – there can't be many people who have lived in the same house for as long as he has. He can still get up and down the stairs on his own, and he still laughs and jokes about. His sisters lived to ripe old ages as well, so he must have good genes – either that or all the ice cream he has eaten has done the trick."

Photo: Well-wishers help Alfonso De Marco celebrate his 107th birthday

item7Alfonso's recipe for a long life

Olive oil, a good woman and a glass of wine are the three ingredients that make up a long and healthy life, according to 107-year-old Alfonso De Marco.

Alfonso celebrated his 107th birthday last Friday at his home in Seaside, Eastbourne, where he has lived for the past 98 years.

He was joined throughout his special day by members of his family and to mark the occasion Alfonso was presented with a birthday cake from his carer Becky Hillier and team leders Kevin Roberts and Finola Castle, of Prime Care's Eastbourne team, who provide daily care to enable him to live in his own home.

A bouquet of flowers was given by John Chibnall, business development manager at Wealden and Eastbourne Lifeline.

During his working life until retirement in 1973, Alfonso ran De Marco's Ice Cream Parlour in Seaside that was opened in 1885 by his father Giuseppe.

In 1936 Alfonso was awarded a diploma from the Ice Cream Association for the high standard and quality of his ices. The diploma, along with memorabilia from his favourite football team Tottenham Hotspur, still hangs in his home today.

Alfonso has three children Lisa Fieldwick, Anita Dipilla and Pierina Caira, nine grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. Anita and her husband Raffele were joined by Lisa and granddaughters Sandra Donoghue and Romina Compton for the birthday celebrations.

Published Date: 03 April 2009

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