As I continue with this series on Longevity, I want to tell you about Joe Rollino.
Sadly, Joe Rollino died this past Monday morning, Jan. 11, 2010. He was out walking near his home in Brooklyn, NY when he was struck by a van.
The above video has the news report. There’s a 15 second commercial at the beginning, so be patient, as it’s worth the wait.
Joe had his morning routine. He would go out early, while it was still dark, and buy the newspaper and a lottery ticket. Then he would walk 5 miles. After his walk, depending on his mood, he might go for a swim. In the ocean. The Atlantic ocean. No matter what the temperature was.
Joe Rollino was 104 when he died, and his 105th birthday would have been in March.
Joe was a lifelong vegetarian – his mother was a vegetarian, which was unusual in that time – who still had all of his own teeth, and ate oatmeal every morning. He never smoked or drank alcohol, he walked five miles every morning, rain or shine, and he also exercised everyday.
People called him the Great Joe Rollino, the Mighty Joe Rollino and even the World’s Strongest Man, for he was a man of extraordinary strength.
Joe Rollino once lifted 475 pounds, using neither his arms nor his legs but instead, his teeth. With just one finger he raised up 635 pounds; with his back he moved 3,200. He bit down on quarters to bend them with his thumb.
At his 103rd birthday party, he put a quarter in his teeth and then bent it. He apologized for his act, saying he used to be able to do it with dimes.
At this same party, retired NYPD detective Arthur Perry met Rollino for the first time, and didn’t believe Rollino was the celebrant – he looked too good for a centenarian.
“It was astonishing, how he was smiled upon by nature,” Perry said. “If you would’ve said to me he was 80, I’d have said he looked younger. And when he started shadow boxing, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
He was a member of the Coney Island swimming society, the Iceberg Athletic Club. Members of the club swam into the icy waters of the Atlantic in Coney Island. But Joe was the leader of the pack: he holds the record for swimming everyday for 8 straight years.
The Iceberg members actually swim in the ocean three or four times a week, and attribute the habit to enduring good health. It is called “winter bathing.”
The water temperature, they insist, is often warmer than the air temperature. If they stay in for 5 or 10 minutes, they believe the cold water kills germs that fester inside one’s body. All the members of the club have attested to the fact that since they started winter bathing, they have not been sick.
When asked at his 103rd birthday party, Joe Rollino couldn’t recall the last time he was sick.
One winter, the police asked Joe Rollino to see if he could find the bodies of two people who drowned in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, because the police did not have the necessary protective equipment and it was too cold for anyone else to jump in and bring them to the surface. Joe went in and recovered the bodies.
If it wasn’t for the car striking him down, Joe would still be with us. Even at 104 years young, Joe left us too soon.
Joe Rollino was a role model for what longevity is all about. We all have a lot to learn from Joe Rollino.