105-year-old cancer survivor, great-grandmother beats COVID-19

Marie Ferise chuckled as she said she wished she could take her mask off for her birthday. The workers at the Homestead Health Care Center in northern New Jersey are used to her sense of humor, but they just learned how tough she is.

"I was nervous,” said nurse Lori Donkersloot. “She is the eldest resident we have here. We all were quite worried about her."

Three weeks ago, Ferise was diagnosed with COVID-19. Her grandchildren in Pasco County wondered if, after 105 years, she'd finally met her match.


"I was very upset,” her grandson Alan Clark said. “Did a lot of praying, every day, every night. Hoping she would pull through. I knew she was a strong woman."

She was born Marie Turri in New Jersey six weeks before WWI. She married Anthony Ferise in 1935, owned a hotel in Deerfield Beach until 1976, had two children, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1993. She survived cancer 10 years ago.


When it came to coronavirus, she and the nursing home staff learned that it doesn't hit everyone the same way.

Ferise said she didn’t know she had COVID-19.

Now, she's not only getting ready for Mother's Day, which is why she's holding flowers, but she's also getting ready for her 106th birthday on June 3.