Prepared to celebrate his 100th birthday on October 27, Antonio Ridolfo, affectionately known as Tony, shares his secret to healthy aging.
While he admits good genetics play a role in longevity, the key to a long and happy life lies in the people you surround yourself with. Good friends, strong family ties, and a supportive partner make every day worth living.
Tony’s life experiences have taught him the power of being part of a strong community. Growing up in an Italian immigrant family, his cultural ties never held him back from befriending people with different backgrounds. “I was fortunate.” Tony recalls, “I grew up in a big depression. It wasn’t so bad. In fact, as a youngster, I enjoyed most of the things that I did because everyone else was in the same boat, and we grew very close.”
He’s grateful to many of his teachers and classmates for encouraging him to continue his education, and enabling him to do so by opening doors and offering opportunities he never thought possible. The gesture of one teacher, Mr. Farkas, stands out clearly even 75 years later.
Tony recalls the encounter, “He said, ‘Tony, I thought you were going to college?’ I didn’t have enough money to even dream about going to college. He said, ‘If I get you a scholarship, will you go to college in September?’ So I said yes. I pursued school and received my Masters and PhD.” Tony enjoyed a rewarding career as a pharmacist and medical professor. Now retired, he still believes strongly in the power of education and he donates his personal resources in the hopes of opening the door to education for the next generation of youth.
Since his wife passed over 12 years ago, Southwest YMCA has become his support system. A member since 2009, the Y is a place where Tony can take the values he’s treasured throughout his life and connect with like-minded individuals to make an impact. His strong sense of community, passion for education, and desire to help others make the Y community the perfect place for him.
Attracted to meeting new people and learning about journeys that differ from his own, he enjoys time spent at the Y. “You make friends. That’s what keeps me coming back. People are great and I’ve been very fortunate to meet them.”Whether he is chatting with new people in the lobby, taking aqua aerobics classes to stay active, or playing bridge in the rec room with friends Tony has a knack for making those around him feel a part of the Y community — his community.
As he approaches his 100th birthday, he shares sage advice for his younger self that all can benefit from, “Always be helpful, but also, really be mindful of what people need. Always strive to help people. There’s always someone worse off than you.”
Tony is filled with gratitude for all those who have been a part of his journey and contributed to the accepting communities he’s cherished throughout his life.