Margaret Tignanelli marks 100th birthday
By ERIC SLAGLE Daily News Staff Writer
eslagle@dailynewsemail.com


Want to know the secret to living to 100?
Ask Margaret Jane Tignanelli.
She turned 100 on July 15 in Mt. Vernon Assisted Living Residence in Elizabeth Township .
Tignanelli said the secret of her longevity has to do with her farm upbringing in Forward Township .
“We lived on meat, beans, potatoes and what we grew,” she said. In addition to eating the right foods, the centenarian said living a long healthy life also means knowing what foods to avoid. For her, that means, “Nothing that fizzes.” Tignanelli, spent some of her birthday with her sister Minnie Lehman, 98, who also lives at Mt. Vernon. Other friends and family celebrated Tignanelli’s birthday with her a few days earlier at a local church.
“I can sit and tell you stories that will take a lifetime,” said Tignanelli. On Wednesday, she paused to recall the animals she and her siblings — she had 12, eight of whom are still alive — raised on the farm and her brother’s prized chicken.
She also recalled the 15 years she worked as a teacher in Forward Township at Bunola, Axleton and Franklin schools.


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“I couldn’t teach school today,” said Tignanelli, explaining that when she was in the classroom, giving a student who was acting up a whack with a paddle was the preferred method of discipline. “I’m a firm person.” Lehman, who also taught school at Franklin, once being in charge of a class of 42 second graders, said she’d like to be back in the classroom. When she was teaching, Lehman said phonics was not an approved method for teaching reading. She said she used it anyway.
Education was always stressed as a family value for the sisters, whose maiden name was Rippel.
Even today, they are both avid readers of newspapers and various magazines.
Tignanelli was married for 50 years. Her husband Joseph passed away in 1998. She never had children but said being a teacher gave her enough exposure to kids.
Billie Jo Dixon, who is activities director at the center, said Tignanelli participates in nearly all the activities offered at the home. She also spends a lot of time with her sister.
Tignanelli uses a walker to get around but Dixon said that hardly limits her mobility.
“We have to tell her to slow down in the hallways,” said Dixon. Dixon added that Tignanelli always has a kind word for others who live in the home and is always sharply dressed. “Everybody here has gotten close to her. She’s that kind of person.”