Dolores Sudol's secret to a long, prosperous life hinges on two words: hard work.
"I kept busy every day," she said.
On Jan. 17, Sudol celebrated her 100th birthday with about 25 of her friends, family members and doctors. The group gathered at Davis Elderly Care in Evans to wish the centenarian a happy birthday.
"It was a beautiful party," she said. "I'll always remember it."
In addition to hard work, Sudol said church, good friends and especially cooking have kept her young in spirit through the years.
To her family, Sudol is known as a fantastic chef -- baking breads and cakes and making spaghetti, pizza and other Italian dishes.
"I would say she cooked on a wood stove up until she was about 75 or 80," said her son, Stan Sudol, who flew from Washington state with his wife, Diane, to spend Christmas with his mother and celebrate her milestone birthday.
Sudol, a New York native, was born in Bedford Village. Her parents emigrated from Orsara di Puglia, Italy, near the turn of the 20th century.
She married Anthony Sudol in 1933 at the age of 23 and had four children -- three sons and a daughter. Sudol spent most of her life as a mother and homemaker in upstate New York.
In her early 20s, she and her sister sang in the opera in Bedford Village and Yonkers, N.Y. Throughout the years, the family has kept newspaper articles about their singing abilities.
"I remember we had a piano, and she would start playing and singing," Stan Sudol said.
Sudol has eight grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and two great great-grandchildren.
Three of Sudol's children -- Stan Sudol, Tony Sudol of Maryland, and Dolores Dutko of Hephzibah -- helped her celebrate her birthday. Her third son is deceased.
In keeping with their mother's love of food, Sudol's family took her to T-Bonz Steakhouse in Augusta the night before her birthday to grant her one birthday wish.
"For her birthday, the only thing she wanted was a piece of steak with a bone in it, so we took her out for steak," Dutko said. "She had steak, a baked potato and a salad and she ate all of it."
Living a long life is not uncommon in Sudol's family, Dutko said.
Sudol's mother lived until 91, her brother lived to the age of 98 and two sisters lived into their 90s. Sudol's younger sister is now 95 years old.
"There's a lot of longevity in there," Dutko said.
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