Vineland Resident Celebrates 100th Birthday

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VINELAND, N.J. -

It is not every day Senator Cory Booker and Congressman Frank LoBiondo send their birthday wishes through plaques and letters, but it is also not every day someone lives to see 100-years-old.

For Vineland resident Maro Ruiz-Mesa, he celebrated the milestone of reaching triple digits on Friday, June 8th at Inspira Life Center.

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“It’s a very exciting day," said Mario Ruiz-Mesa Jr. "Not too many people reach that age and thank God he’s been in good health. We’re very proud of him. He’s been a very good father to us."

Growing up with three sisters, Mario was the only son of the Secretary of Treasury in Cuba. His life in Havana changed in 1961 when he became a husband with his own family to raise.

Mario fled Cuba with his wife and two children, 16 and 11 at the time, to escape the dictatorship of Fidel Castro with hopes of starting a better life in America.

“Well, we’re living the American dream," said Gloria Ruiz-Mesa Graff, daughter of Mario Ruiz-Mesa. "We came here. We started from the bottom. We studied. We worked hard and we became successful. So he set a great example for us and my children too are following that now.”

With only one suitcase per person and $500 cash on them, Mario and his family of four would end up settling into a new life in South Jersey leaving behind their belongings, home, and a brand new car in Cuba. 

“It was very difficult at first because he was a prominent judge and then he had to go work in the racetrack washing pots and pans. And we all held it together," said Graff. 

With the number 100 lit up on his cake, Mario celebrated a century of life with his family and friends. For the Ruiz-Mesa family, their biggest change began with a father's decision to give his family a better life, setting future generations of relatives up for a life in America. 

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