By: Staff Reports On: 07:29PM / Wednesday June 30, 2010
Bennie Madigan at the opening celebration for the Susan B. Anthony Museum in February.
Cheshire's own Bernice Madigan, better known as Aunt Bennie, will be featured in a segment of ABC World News on Thursday night, July 1.
Madigan, who will turn 111 on July 24, is the oldest citizen in Massachusetts and is listed 49th oldest in the world by The Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group, which tracks so-called "supercentenarians," or those age 110 and older.
Madigan's niece Elaine Daniels was contacted by Boston Medical last week to see if the state's "superwoman" would be willing to be interviewed by the news program. Madigan has been a part of the Boston University School of Medicine's New England Centenarian Study, which is researching why some people live so long — and so well.
"She's used to all the interviews," said Daniels on Wednesday afternoon after alerting family and friends to Thursday's television appearance. Madigan, who is still active and alert, has been interviewed by local media and print publications, including iBerkshires, The Boston Globe and The Berkshire Eagle. She was recently interviewed for a feature in AARP Magazine and interviewed and filmed for the Center for Aging at the University of Chicago.
But the national television appearance had her a bit nervous, said Daniels. "She was worried her piano playing wouldn't be very good because she hasn't been playing much since being sick (recently). I told her not worry, they'd edit it."
A camera crew and an interviewer from Boston spent Wednesday afternoon at Madigan's home asking her about her life and to what she attributed her long life ("No kids, no stress" is her frequent rejoinder) and filmed her daily routine of walking, doing a puzzle, reading a paper and, of course, playing the piano.
Madigan will celebrate her 111th birthday with some 200 or so friends and relatives, many from her longtime home in Maryland. ABC World News airs at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 10.
Update: Madigan was featured in a story late in the broadcast about a new study by Boston University released Thursday that found 150 genetic variants particular to people age 100 older. Researchers believe clusters of these variants may indicate greater resistance, or delay, to the onset of age-related diseases. Madigan's been a participant in BU's aging study for a few years.
In the short video version of the story, the spotlight was stolen a bit by a younger woman of 104 in New Jersey who regularly drinks three glasses of beer and a shot of Black Label because "my doctor told me to." (News editors seem to love old people who drink and, especially, smoke cigars at advanced ages.)
Madigan and her niece, Elaine Daniels, are featured as the video cover on the ABC World News page; they're walking down the long driveway of Rolling Acres Farm. And Madigan talks a little and plays the piano - quite well, we might add. She had nothing to worry about.
We're having trouble loading the video but the link is here. We'll try to have it posted Friday.