At 110, She’s Still a Model Citizen


Consuelo Moreno likes her daily routine.

She reads her Bible, plays with Pepe, her daughter’s Chihuahua, has an afternoon nap and takes a nip of Southern Comfort bourbon.

But Jan. 31 was anything but routine for one of the country’s oldest naturalized citizens. It was “Consuelo Moreno Day,” as proclaimed by the mayor the day Moreno turned 110.

She was celebrated with the performance of an 86-year-old flamenco dancer and surrounded by several generations of family members at a party in her honor at Sentara Nursing Center-Virginia Beach.

Family is one reason Moreno finally decided to become a U.S. citizen five years ago. She had immigrated to Virginia from Tangier, Morocco, in 1964. Her two surviving children, two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild were either born here or had become naturalized Americans.

“She would say, ‘Oh, you’re American, I want to be American too,’ ” said her 79-year-old daughter, Maria Sanchez. “She wanted to be like her children, you know.”


Moreno is one of the oldest people to become a U.S. citizen.

“It’s a rarity. It’s definitely very special for her and for us also,” said Ernestine Fobbs of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Moreno was born to Spanish parents in Tangier in 1892. Her father drowned when she was 15, and she helped support her family by becoming a seamstress. She kept sewing, mostly for spending money, after she got married.

“She always spent the money on us,” Sanchez said. “She would buy things for her children.”

Her son moved from Tangier to Washington, D.C., in the late 1950s, and Moreno and Sanchez left Morocco for Virginia Beach soon afterward.

Moreno lived with Sanchez until 1994, when she moved into the nursing center. Sanchez visits every day, and is sure to bring Pepe along. “It makes her smile and makes her happy,” she said.

Moreno was widowed at 52 and has outlived five of her seven children, including a daughter who died three months after birth and a 10-year-old son who died from typhoid fever.

“She was a very good mother,” Sanchez said. “When somebody a long time ago asked her why she didn’t get [remarried], she said, ‘Why should I? I have my children.’ ”