Portage County’s oldest resident, Mary Denny, dies at 111

Image of Mary Denny in her room
Mary Denny sits in her chair while giving life advice to future generations. "Work hard, pray a lot and exercise. Even if you don't feel like working, do it anyways," she said. Asha Blake/ The Portager.

Mary Denny, a Suffield native who was among the oldest people in the world at 111, died Tuesday, her family said.

In a Portager feature for her 111th birthday in June, Denny described her bucolic upbringing in Suffield as the youngest of seven children. She recounted different eras of her life, marked in her memory by the type of car she drove or didn’t drive. She only stopped driving herself when she was 93 years old.

As a kid, she walked to St. Joseph School in Randolph. “I walked out that way six miles a day. I didn’t miss a day,” she said.

She met her husband, Russ Denny, working as a waitress. They married in 1938 and ran a saloon and tavern in Suffield together. They regularly fished together, bringing home hauls of around 500 fish to clean and give away to friends and neighbors. Russ Denny died in 1995.

Denny moved to the Homestead assisted living facility in Hartville when she was 101. She said the secret to life was “prayer and hard work.” 

“I pray a lot,” she said. “I have a little rosary that I carry ever since I went to high school. I’m proud of everything I have accomplished. God gave me a good mind.”

Denny’s family obituary can be found here.

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Natalie Wolford is managing editor at The Portager. A native of Randolph, she studied film in New York City and is producing a feature-length documentary about her aunt, a small-town journalist.