At 100, Rocco Lodise Continues to Dance into the Hearts of Many at the Juniata Park Older Adult Center

Rocco Lodise raises a glass to celebrate his 100th Birthday with friends and family last Friday at the Juniata Park Older Adult Center. / Photo: T. Lineman – Juniata News

   Celebration was the name of the day at the Juniata Park Older Adult Center as family and friends celebrated Rocco Lodise’s 100th Birthday last Friday.

   Rocco joined the Juniata Park Older Adult Center in 1988, and has really been dancing into the hearts of many people here. He teaches Line Dancing every Wednesday at the Center, and has made an impression on the members.

   “He’s my idol,” said Dollie Dempsey, a member of the Center. “Always positive, bubbly, I just love him. I always tell him, I want to be just like you when I grow up!

   Rocco credits his long and vibrant life to keeping active. “I’ve been dancing since I was 18 years old,” he told the Juniata News. He started with Ballroom Dancing at that time, and when the Jitterbug came along, he moved on to that. Now, Line Dancing is his passion.

   January 6th is his actual birthday, and he was happily surprised to see members of his family at the Center’s celebration. “They’re having something for me on Sunday,” he said. I wasn’t expecting family.” It was a wonderful surprise.

   State Rep. Joe Hohenstein was on hand to read a special citation commemorating Rocco’s life from Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, who couldn’t be there as she was hosting a Three Kings Day celebration at her office. Hohenstein was impressed with Rocco’s energy. “There’s always more chapters in a life, always more things to be able to discover, more adventures to be had,” he said.

State Rep. Joe Hohenstein (left) and Charlie Sgrillo, owner of the Harrowgate Boxing Club (right) with the man of the hour, Rocco Lodise!

   Rocco’s incredible life included his late wife, Edna, who was his dancing partner. He is a Veteran of World War II, 1943-1946, serving in the Army and stationed in Greenland.  An employee of the U.S. Postal Service, Rocco retired and then spent much of his time at the Northeast Senior Center and Juniata Park Older Adult Center dancing and playing pinochle.

   “He plays pinochle unbelievable,” said Felicia Sgrillo. “He’s a great guy and has a great memory!”

   “He’s been a member here since the day it opened,” said Joe Fagan, Director at the Center.

   Rocco has a following of dancers who have become a tight-knit group, and they’re always looking for new members. You just have to be a member of the Center ($8.00 a year) and because Rocco volunteers his services, all Line Dancing classes are free! Call 215-685-1490 for info.

   “I’ve never seen him in a bad mood, always smiling, always laughing,” said Fagan. “I’ve never seen him down, never seen him raise his voice — Just a pleasure to be around.”

   Happy 100th Birthday Rocco!

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