Recently, the residents of Grand Villa conducted a vote to elect a Queen. Everyone had a voice and each took their responsibility seriously. After each ballot was tallied and every hanging chad was debated, Ruth Luchesi was declared the winner.
"I don't mean to sound boastful, but it felt good," she explained. "They even gave me a crown."
This royal honor was a far cry from her upbringing. Born on November 19, 1919 to a poor, working-class family in rural Pennsylvania, Luchesi did not have much.
"It was a tough environment to grow up in."
Matters were made worse when Luchesi 's parents separated. Her father, a bricklayer by trade, traveled worked in Altuna, Pittsburgh, Greensburg and anywhere he could find work.
"We were a poor and broken family," Luchesi lamented. "But I never stole. I always tried to do the right thing. If I saw a penny on the floor, I tried to find who it belonged to."
She found solace, however, in books. Literature and stories provided a means of escape and a chance to experience aspects of the world that she never saw first person.
"I like books that I can get something out of. If I could not learn something new, it was a waste of my time."
Luchesi, says she married twice before the age of 20 because of her family's financially hard times.
"My sister likes to say that there are only two good men in the entire world, and I married both of them."
Her first marriage lasted three years-- the second lasted for a number of decades. She had two children and moved to Florida.
"Both of my husbands loved me at the time we separated, and I still loved them. What do you want me to say, dear?"
Luchesi is described by those around her as a "pistol", which is perhaps why she was elected Queen. Spending fifteen minutes with her illuminates that characterization.
"Look, you feed your kids, take care of your husband and family, and try to be a decent person. That is all that you can do in life," she said.
Perhaps it is this clarity of vision that propelled Luchesi through life's vicissitudes.
"I gave to life the best that I could. And I expected the best back from it."