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Irina Zaretti, Who Immigrated To New York In 1954, Celebrates 100th Birthday With Family, Friends On Long Island

WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - The matriarch of a unique Italian-American family was crowned 100-years-old Friday.

Irina Zaretti, 100, told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan that her life is nothing but splendid.

Longevity runs in the family - Irina's mother lived to be 107-years-old.

So, one century was nothing to her.

"I have a beautiful family, and friends," Irina said.

Irina's husband of 69 years, Ercole, died in 2006.

She's also a COVID-19 survivor, but said her health is strong.

Irina's daughter from East Meadow, son from Michigan and a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren traveled to The Bristal in Westbury for the one-of-a-kind, socially distant, celebration.

"Nonni," as the grandkids call her, was born in the roaring twenties, the year prohibition was ushered in and women in America gained the right to vote.

"It's just amazing to think what she went through in Italy during World War II, with my dad. I get very emotional when I think about it," said Grace Conti, Irina's daughter.

"All she went through, the war, and coming to America... Bringing us here, we just love her," said John Zaretti, Irina's son.

Born in Italy, Irina said it was her dream to become a U.S. citizen, which she did in 1954, carving a path for her family in America.

She brought them to New York, where she and her husband raised their two children.

A seamstress by day, Irina cleaned office buildings - including the Chrysler Building - by night.

She taught herself English, too.

"It took a lot of strength and courage," said Conti. "And that's her gift, I think, to us. We're all very strong."

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