My husband Ray is great about keeping me informed about what is happening in the world. He reads the daily newspaper from a nearby small city and a business journal from our region. When he sees an article that he thinks I’d like to read, he opens the paper or journal to that article and lays it on my desk. The other day there was a post-it note with several articles noted. He checks news online, reads from Imprimis and his favorite economics blogger, and otherwise stays informed. He often comes to the table with news items to share with me and whoever else is at the table that day. Sometimes the news he shares is important and sometimes it is just for fun.
Ray recently told me that the world’s oldest man had just died at age 112. I was intrigued and did some research about him so I could share the story of his life with you. My information comes from the websites of the Guinness World Records and the M. J. Colucci & Son Niagara Funeral Chapel in Niagara Falls, New York.
Salustiano Sanchez was born on June 8, 1901 in the village of El Tejado de Bejar in the Salamanca province of Spain. His family included his parents, Serafin and Baldomera (Blasquez) Sanchez, his brother Pedro, and his sister Nicholasa. As a child, Salustiano learned to play a Spanish woodwind instrument called a dulzania. He played it at weddings and celebrations in El Tejado de Bejar and earned some pocket change by doing so. He went to school until he was ten years old.
At age 17, Salustiano immigrated to the New World, along with Pedro and some friends. He found work in sugar cane fields in Cuba. In August of 1920, he came to the United States, entering through Ellis Island in New York harbor. For a while, he worked in coal mines in Lynch, Kentucky. Around age thirty, Salustiana (nicknamed “Shorty”) moved to Niagara Falls, New York. On April 7, 1934, he married Pearl Chiasera, the love of his life. They had a son John and a daughter Irene and were married for fifty-four years until her death in 1988.
In Niagara Falls, Mr. Sanchez worked in construction and then was employed by the Union Carbide Company for more than thirty years. In his leisure time, he liked to play gin rummy and do crossword puzzles. He enjoyed gardening and long walks and considered himself self-taught. He loved spending time with his family. Surviving him at death were his two children (aged 76 and 69), seven grandchidlren, fifteen great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren, plus nieces, nephews, and cousins. My favorite entry on his funeral home guest book was “Rest in peace, Uncle Shorty.”
At the time of his death on September 13, Mr. Sanchez had only enjoyed the title of world’s oldest man for seven weeks, being named the world’s oldest man after the death of a 116-year-old Japanese man who died in July. Salustiano commented that he did not feel he had accomplished anything special because he happened to be living longer than other men. Mr. Sanchez credited his longevity to eating a banana and taking Anacin every day.
Sadly I read nothing about the spiritual life of Salustiano Sanchez. Perhaps that is more a reflection of my news sources rather than Mr. Sanchez himself.
God created Salustiana Sanchez in His own image. He grew up experiencing Spanish village life and enjoying music. He experienced Cuba before Fidel Castro and the Communists came to power there. The Statue of Liberty welcomed him when he arrived at Ellis Island. He worked in a coal mine in the heart of Appalachia. He was employed by the same American company for more than three decades, something commonplace at the time but rare today. Born into a Spanish family, he began an American family whom he loved and who loved him in return. Each life is precious.
He made from one man
every nation of mankind
to live on all the face of the earth,
having determined their appointed times
and the boundaries of their habitation.
Acts 17:26, NASB