SAYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Rose Leigh-Manuell calls herself blessed.

The vibrant great-great-grandmother is 101 years old.

Her medical staff at Good Samaritan/Catholic Health Services in Sayville believes Leigh-Manuell’s strength and drive battled and beat the coronavirus. But she credits them.

“The doctors and nurses, everybody taking wonderful care of me,” she said.


Leigh-Manuell’s son Gary says it was touch and go.

“The survival rate at 101 years old when you contract the disease… I didn’t think she had a chance,” he said.

Not only did Leigh-Manuell conquer COVID-19, she survived the Spanish flu the year she was born.

“1918. December 31st, 1918,” she said.

Leigh-Manuell was born into the fishing industry. Both her father and husband were commercial fishermen.

“I went clamming but not much, I wasn’t very good at it,” she joked.

When her husband died unexpectedly, Leigh-Manuell became the breadwinner for the family, working at the Sayville firehouse and then the village fish market until she was 95.

“I was known as the famous coleslaw lady,” she said.

“She was known as the coleslaw lady. She had this colelsaw recipe that nobody could match,” said her son.

Working hard and various shifts meant driving a car, until recently.

“I was 99,” Leigh-Manuell said.

Her family says she was an excellent driver at age 99 when her license expired.

“I would have had to renew and take a driver’s test all over again. I don’t think I would have passed,” she said.

Leigh-Manuell had been eating out at restaurants three times a week until the virus hit. She says she feels fine now, however.

So was there a secret to her recovery?

“She loves any junk food. But her Oreo cookies, primarily vanilla or golden Oreos, are her favorite,” said her son.

“We love Rosie here,” one nurse said.

“Thank you. I try to be a good patient,” Leigh-Manuell said.

“You are Rosie!” said the nurse.

Leigh-Manuell made the nursing staff and her son promise that when restaurants reopen, they will have a date, with cookies for dessert.

Comments (9)
  1. CharleyC says:

    Proof positive that life is all about attitude.

  2. Tony Searfoss says:

    God Bless!!!

  3. jimmyv2113 says:

    I wonder if teh media wil attack her like they do the president for suggesting Oreo cookies helped her fight the virus…..

  4. aed939aed939 says:

    I bet that was real lactofermented slaw

  5. azwarrior1 says:

    Love coleslaw and would like you to (1) send me your recipe and (2) buy me a lottery ticket!

  6. Cheryl says:

    I’m interested in that cole slaw recipe too.

  7. Fatty Matty says:

    If Oreo’s are the key to Covid defeat…I’m all in!

  8. says:

    Rosie – Please give us your cole slaw recipe! Stay well and try to live a long life….

  9. PETER DORNAY says:

    She ever get the quadruple flu shot or any other vaccines? My dad lived to 101, avoided all vaccines and most drugs. lived alone till he hit 100.

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