Mary Dimakis was born so long ago that when she moved into the Roads, there were few paved streets in the neighborhood.
Dimakis will soon turn 108, making her the second-oldest resident in South Florida. The oldest, at 111, is Antonia Rivera, who lives just a few miles away.
Dimakis is old enough for UCLA gerontologist Dr. Steven Coles to begin tracking her as she closes in on "supercentenarian" status, or 110.
"We normally start tracking people at 109 years old," said Coles, who tracks people aged 100 or older.
Back in 1903, when Dimakis was born:
- the Wright Brothers flew the first plane;
- Henry Ford rolled out the Model A; and
- Teddy Roosevelt was president.
Dimakis recalls large Miami landmarks being built in 1926, including the Dade County courthouse, Biltmore Hotel, and Freedom Tower. She also lived through "the hurricane" that year.
What is her secret for longevity? She credits God and her faith.
"Right after I was born, my parents took me to the Jordan River to be baptized right where Jesus was baptized," says Dimakis, who moved from Turkey to New York and then Miami nine decades ago.
Dimakis, who still retains her pioneer ways, lives alone, does not use the air conditioner, and cooks her own food.
"Aunt Mary still pushes her own cart at Publix," says her nephew, Gus Efthimiou Jr., 84, a 1945 Beach High grad who was a city attorney for South Miami, West Miami, and Sweetwater.
After some coaxing, Dimakis revealed some other long-life secrets, which include eating Greek food every day (especially if it comes from Maria's Greek Restaurant), taking an interest in others, and having lots of friends.
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She loves to sit in her rocker, peer out her large picture window, and wave to neighbors.
But ask her age and she will scold you.
"I tell people the same thing every year," Dimakis says. "I'm 39."