GENEVA – Even though Geneva resident Marie Cavaliere recently turned 95 years old, she has no intention of retiring from her job at Silvestri Sweets in Geneva any time soon.
"I don't know what I would do if I didn't work," Cavaliere said Sunday, surrounded by family members and co-workers who threw her a surprise birthday party at Aurelio's Pizza in Geneva. "It's a wonderful place to work. I have a wonderful boss."
Cavaliere, who turned 95 on March 4, has been working at Silvestri Sweets since the early '80s, when it still was headquartered in Cicero. When the company moved to Geneva several years ago, Cavaliere moved as well.
She still works 40 hours a week running the company's outlet store.
"They broke the mold when they made her," Silvestri President Andy Silvestri said. "Even if it is snowing or raining out, she will walk to work. She's really spunky."
Her co-workers affectionately call her "Gram" and she is known throughout the community as "The Candy Lady." Andy Silvestri's mother, Mary Jane Silvestri, also is amazed at how Cavalier continues to put her heart into her job.
"She packages candy beautifully," she said. "There is an art to tying a bow on a package, and she can do it."
Her family members also know how special she is.
"She's a great example to all of us," said Dominick Cavaliere of Elgin, in talking about his aunt. "She used to ride her bike to work and to church because she never had a driver's license. She doesn't complain and she's sharp as a whip. She's the most inspirational woman you would ever want to meet."