Catherine 'Kate' Perna Tesei, a lifelong Greenwich resident who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, passed away at Greenwich Hospital on March 31, 2014.

Born Feb. 7, 1914 in Greenwich, she was the eldest daughter of the late James F. Perna and Anna Morano Perna.

Mrs. Tesei celebrated her 100th birthday this year with friends and family who came from near and far to be with her. February 7 was proclaimed to “Catherine Perna Tesei Day” in Greenwich. At a surprise  birthday party in her honor at Greenwich Town Hall that was hosted by the Greenwich Republican Town Committee, she was presented with the proclamation by great-nephew and First Selectman Peter Tesei.

In an interview with Greenwich Patch, Mrs. Tesei recalled growing up in a political family. She said, "I grew up in politics. My father (James Perna) belonged to the Cos Cob Republican Club." After the oldest of nine children married John A. Tesei in 1940, she too became involved in politics.

For more than 30 years she served on the Republican Town Committee Executive Committee and as leader of District 3 caucus, representing the Chickahominy neighborhood where she's lived since her marriage.

Her elected career spanned more than four decades serving six terms as an elected District 3 delegate to the Representative Town Meeting, and as chairman of the District 3 delegation. She also had the distinction of becoming the first woman on the RTM Claims and Finance Committee. In 1985, Mrs. Tesei received the William Minot Memorial Award from the Greenwich Republican Roundtable.

Parishioner of St. Roch Church and a member of Women’s Catholic Council, she attended Greenwich High School and the Merrill Business School of Stamford.

Mrs. Tesei also was an avid reader and enjoyed the opera and gardening. She also volunteered with the American Red Cross, as Chairman of the Community Chest, and was a former director of and six-year board member of Child and Family Center.

She is survived by two brothers, Charles Perna of Springhill, FL and Floyd Perna of Burnsville, MN; and many nieces and nephews. 

She was predeceased by her husband John Tesei in 1993, and three brothers, Rocco Perna, Francis Perna and Thomas Perna, and three sisters, Virginia Judice, Carmella Kresan and Florence Perna.

Visiting hours will be from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, April 4 at the Castiglione Funeral Home, 134 Hamilton Ave., Greenwich. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 5 at St Roch’s Church, St. Roch Avenue, Greenwich.  Burial will be private.  

Memorial donations may be made to St Roch’s Church, 10 St. Roch Ave., Greenwich, CT 06830. 

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