Celebrating a Party Stalwart and Her 100th Birthday
Greenwich Republicans surprised Catherine 'Kate' Tesei with a celebration of her 100th birthday at Greenwich Town Hall.
She may just be one of Greenwich's oldest Republicans who's credited with being a party stalwart able to rally the troops at election time.
And the Greenwich Republican Town Committee (RTC) made sure that Catherine 'Kate' Tesei knew just how much her work in the party — that spans decades — is appreciated.
On a frigid Wednesday night, Mrs. Tesei arrived at Greenwich Town Hall with her aide Jocelyne Dorisme and her niece Kathryn Doherty where they were met by her great-nephew First Selectman Peter Tesei.
Tesei and the RTC arranged for a surprise 100th birthday celebration for the lifelong Greenwich resident who's been involved in Republican politics since 1940. Wearing a jaunty beret, a beaming Mrs. Tesei was greeted by dozens of her compatriots, party leaders and the Greenwich state legislative delegation who serenaded her with "Happy Birthday".
She was presented with a glass plaque commemorating her service by RTC Chair Jim Campbell. Peter Tesei presented her with a proclamation that Feb. 7 — her actual birthday — will be Catherine Perna Tesei Day in Greenwich.
State Rep. Steve Walko said that all four members of the town's state delegation "have either worked with you or learned from what you taught other Republicans."
Before the party — which also featured large cake — Mrs. Tesei chatted about her involvement in all things Republican while sitting in the First Selectman's office.
As a child 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 became involved in politics.
For decades 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. Mrs. Tesei also was a member of the Representative Town Meeting for 15 years and in 1985 received the William Minot Memorial Award from the Greenwich Republican Roundtable.
"Her house on Election Day was election central," Peter Tesei recalled. "Everyone would gather there to make calls to help get out the vote. She is the person, due to her connections, helped get residents of Chickahominy to switch from the Democrats to being Republican."
The first selectman also credited his aunt for nurturing his interest in politics.
"One of the things Aunt Kate would always get me were the election buttons and bumper stickers," Tesei said.
Mrs. Tesei said she was "so surprised" by the early birthday celebration. Come the actual birthday, it'll be a three-day event. "There will be three days where they'll (friends and relatives) will be coming to visit."