Woman, age 106, becomes state's oldest U.S. citizen

50 years after woman came from Italy, she becomes an American


A 106-year-old Rosedale woman who was born in Italy become the oldest Marylander -- and second-oldest American -- to become a U.S. citizen yesterday.

After the honor, Irene DiCocco spoke the only English she knows.

"Thank you," she said. "Thank you, very much."

DiCocco, of the 2300 block of Holyoke Road, sat in a wheelchair and waved a small American flag as she was presented a citizenship certificate by Richard C. Caterisano, acting director of the Baltimore district office of the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"I am happy now," DiCocco said in Italian as a half-dozen reporters and photographers surrounded her.

DiCocco and her four children immigrated from Fontechiari, Italy, in 1939 just before the start of World War II. They boarded a ship called the Rex and arrived in New York City after a monthlong voyage. Her husband and children were granted citizenship decades ago, but DiCocco never tried.

"She really did not think about it until recently," said her daughter Yolanda Canestraro, 78, who lives with her mother. "I guess she figured at 106 years old it was about time."

Caterisano said the oldest person to receive citizenship was a 107-year-old woman in Texas.

"We did not want to wait until next March to beat or tie the record," he said.

Pub Date: 7/10/99

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