CUMBERLAND – On Dec. 7, Feora Peloquin will celebrate her 100th birthday at Mount St. Rita Health Centre, where she currently lives. Her daughter-in-law, Ann Peloquin, said the family is planning a celebration for that weekend.
The former Feora Caselli’s parents came to the U.S. from Italy and built a house in Bellingham, Mass. She was born in Bellingham, but that house burned down when she was very young and the Caselli family moved to Woonsocket, on Diamond Hill Road.
She had one older brother as well as a younger brother and sister. Her sister, Iris, died a few weeks ago. Her younger brother died at about 25 after having his tonsils removed, a time with no Penicillin when his infection could not be cured.
Her father opened an ice cream parlor on Diamond Hill Road. The store is no longer there, but its legacy within the family lives on, as that is where Feora met her husband, Laurent “Larry” Peloquin.
Before that she attended Woonsocket High School and graduated in the top five of her class, making honor roll. She used to walk to school, then return home for lunch and walk back to school. From school, she then walked to the ice cream shop.
“We had an ice cream scoop for 3 cents, a big shovel full for 5 cents,” she said. “Prices have gone up just a little bit. I used to go, I walked from Woonsocket High to my father’s place. It’s not there anymore.”
Her mother, who also came over from Italy, lived until she was 104.
“My mother lived quite a long time,” she said. “Not my father, he passed away in his 80s. Years ago that was old, but not now. My mother was in a nursing home but she lived to 104. It was Thanksgiving and I got the call that she had passed.”
Peloquin says she eats well and thinks she has some longevity genes inherited from her mother.
Larry, who served in World War II, was five years older than Feora when they married.
“My father didn’t see me until I was like a year old,” her son Ken said. “He was in Italy and then they sent him to the Philippines. The European situation was resolved, so they sent a lot of troops west to get ready for the next stage.”
Peloquin remembers well when the attack on Pearl Harbor happened on her birthday.
“Dec. 7, the day of infamy,” she said. “Pearl Harbor. I had a good friend who died that day.”
After her husband returned, they had another child, a girl, now with a married name of Christine Johnson, who lives in Maine.
Feora Caselli was born as Fiora but eventually decided to change the spelling of her name from an “i” to an “e” because there was a river in Italy, the Fiora River that she didn’t want to be confused with or be mispronounced.
After high school, she attended Hill College, a business school in Woonsocket. She got a job where she earned $14 per week.
At some point after both children were born, Feora decided to go back to school, at Rhode Island College, where she earned her master’s degree in reading. She then spent the bulk of her life teaching reading at Cumberland Hill School until retiring at around age 60.
When her husband returned from the WWII, they caught the travel bug and visited a great many places.
“When my husband got out of the service, we went all over the place,” she said. “We went to Australia. I’ve been to every state except for Oklahoma. My niece lived in Texas and said I didn’t want to go to Oklahoma. I should have gone. I’ve been to a lot of countries.”
Feora and Larry visited China, Italy, France, England, Greece, Russia and New Zealand.
She said she did get a chance to put her foot in Oklahoma, which means she’s touched all 50 states.
The Peloquins settled down in Cumberland, Feora playing a key part in getting prices and hiring contractors to build a home. Feora was independent and drove herself around until an accident about two years ago where she fell and broke her leg, forcing her into assisted living.
Feora was always on top of everything, says her family, and was always about her family first and foremost.
“She did all her own taxes, balanced the checkbooks,” Ann said. “She did all the numbers and money. “She kept a log on the way to Florida every year, where they would stop, how much the gas was.”
Eventually they became snowbirds and had a place in Florida for the winter. The family would go down and visit, Feora and Larry’s love of travel transferring to the whole family.
“I loved to go to the beach,” Feora said.
Before her accident, Feora was managing just fine.
“Three years ago, Feora went to my daughter’s wedding and she danced,” Ann said. “She had a beautiful outfit. They got her up and took her out there. She was still walking and doing everything. She looked great.”
In addition to her two children, she has four grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
She is a big reader, loving getting the Cumberland/Lincoln and North Smithfield/Woonsocket/Blackstone editions of The Breeze. She also loves keeping her mind active playing Words with Friends on her iPad.
“Now all my friends have passed away,” she said. “We all have to go. Enjoy yourself while you can.”