AT News Team, Jan. 21, 2015:   Josephine Patinella is 108 today, placing her among the few hundred longest-lived Americans. She joined the Adventist faith as a young adult in Brooklyn, New York City, and continues to this day as a faithful member of the La Mesa Adventist Church in the suburbs of San Diego, California.

Her family were immigrants from the island of Sicily in Italy and reacted negatively when she adopted the Adventist religion. She withstood pressure from relatives, neighbors and parish priests in her Italian neighborhood, according to a feature story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

With only a fourth grade education before she left Italy, Patinella taught herself to read English by copying the Bible and memorizing the meaning of the words. She survived the 1918-19 flu epidemic in Europe and is still in good health despite severe hearing and sight limitations.

Patinella raised three daughters and in 1975 retired with her husband to southern California. The three girls all eventually joined their parents in the San Diego area. Frank Patinella died in 1987.

“Until three years ago, she lived alone,” the Union-Tribune said of Patinella, “doing her own cooking, cleaning and bill paying. Then that old-folks curse — a broken hip — happened. As it often does, it changed the way she lived.”

“Initially, the surgeon told the family he wasn’t going to operate on a 105-year-old woman. When she was told that, Josephine replied with characteristic determination: ‘Fix the hip!'”

She is still in her apartment, but with a live-in attendant, middle-aged Betty Cowardin. Patinella gets around with a walker and Cowardin’s help.

Patinella says her long life is due to her relationship with God and a sensible lifestyle. It is true that Adventists live longer than the average person, nearly a decade longer in the United States. But Sister Patinella is in a very elite group; the oldest woman in the world is 116, just eight years older than she turns today.

Pastor Larry McGill is her senior pastor at the La Mesa Adventist Church and Pastor Joseph Savino is the associate on staff at the congregation with about 750 members. Patinella may be the oldest Adventist in North America so far as Adventist Today could discover.

If you would like to send Sister Josephine Patinella greets for her 108th birthday, please send them care of Adventist Today and we will pass them on to her through her son-in-law who is a board member for the Adventist Today Foundation. Send them via Email to atoday@atoday.org with “Greetings for Sister Patinella” in the subject line, or send them by regular post to Adventist Today, Box 1135, Sandy, Oregon 97055.