Frank and Lena Venturelli: Partners in Business and Life

September 24, 2019

Frank and Lena Venturelli have done it all together. The longtime San Mateo residents, married 68 years this July, owned and operated a successful business and raised two children. Along the way, they also became something they never expected: pioneers.

Frank was a TV Technician who also installed antenna systems. In the 1960s, when Foster City was in its infancy, the city wouldn’t allow antennas on rooftops as per city ordinance and by-laws since the flight paths of planes landing at SFO passed directly overhead.

“People had to use rabbit ears to get reception,” Frank said. “A plane would pass overhead every two or three minutes, causing the TV picture to flutter, becoming unviewable.”

Frank saw an opportunity. Along with his brother-in-law Al Cerro, he approached the Foster brothers in 1966 with the idea of installing cable television in Foster City. A deal was struck, the company Cer-Vent Cable TV was born, and Frank helped to change the way Foster City residents watched television.

“We installed 70 miles of cable,” Frank said, while showing me newspaper clippings from the time heralding the deal. “We were offering 12 channels, which was a big deal back then. It’s unbelievable to me what cable is today.”

Lena was Frank’s partner in the business – “She was our right-hand ‘man’,” Frank recalled – and wore several hats, from bookkeeper, to saleswoman, to receptionist. Together, they kept things going until they couldn’t keep up with the demands of the rapidly-expanding city. They sold   Cer-Vent Cable in 1968 to Continental Telephone and used the profits to buy a portion of the Burlingame Plaza Shopping Center (with Lunardi’s as one of their tenants) which they still own today. Frank kept his TV Sales and Repair business until he retired, and now assists his son David and nephew Alan Cerro in running the shopping center.

Frank and Lena moved to Sterling Court last July and immediately felt at home. They already knew a few other residents before moving in and have made more friends along the way. Frank even met another resident who was in his high school senior class.

“There are great people here,” Frank said. “They’re friendly and the staff is great. They just really treat you well here.” They’re also big fans of the food. “It’s hard to get thin here!” Frank said, laughing.

The couple stays busy, enjoying many of the activities offered at Sterling Court. Frank even makes time to entertain the other residents with his accordion, which he’s played since childhood. They’re also active members of the Peninsula Social Club and enjoy spending time with their two children, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Frank and Lena’s impressive business acumen is admirable, but it’s their personal story that resonates the most. It’s a testament to the strength of their relationship that they have accomplished so much while staying at each other’s side along the way. Raising an amazing family and shepherding a pioneering business are great triumphs on their own, but to do both is something truly special.

When they met through a mutual friend who happened to be working on Lena’s family home, both felt it was love at first sight. It’s safe to say that they were right.

Staying Healthy: Everyday Dietary Tips for Seniors

September 23, 2019

As we grow older, our dietary needs change. The foods we used to love may not agree with us anymore, and lifestyle changes might be necessary for the benefit of our health.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy our favorite meals; instead, it means we must be more aware of what we’re eating and sometimes make healthier choices. Here are some foods to both avoid and seek out as we get older in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle – and remember

to always check with your doctor first before making any major dietary changes.

Avoid: High-Sodium Foods

Too much salt in a diet can lead to health problems, especially for those with a history of hypertension. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends anyone over the age of 70 to limit their sodium intake to 1,200 milligrams per day, or around two-thirds of a teaspoon. A good way to cut back on salt is to read the labels of any pre-packaged foods you buy – you may be surprised by the amount of sodium you find. And if your food is bland, try adding different herbs and spices for added flavor rather than table salt.

Seek Out: Fish

Fish is a wonder food for seniors containing many nutrients that are beneficial. Seafood is high in omega-3 fatty acids which have been found to combat heart disease,

Alzheimer’s, and degenerative eye diseases, to name a few. If you don’t like seafood, Omega-3 supplements are available; however, they don’t have the same amount of nutrients you would get from eating fish alone.

Avoid: Caffeine

Not only can caffeine keep you awake, it can also in- crease anxiety and make your heart beat irregularly – which is highly dangerous for anyone with a heart condition. It may be best to avoid caffeine altogether, but sodas should especially be avoided since they also contain huge amounts of sugar as well as caffeine.

Seek Out: Water

It sounds simple enough, but how often do we go through most of our day without drinking any water? As we age, we tend to have a reduced sense of thirst, meaning we may miss the telltale signs of dehydration. Drinking water every day is important to overall health, though how much of it varies by the individual. Make sure to ask your doctor how many glasses of water per day you should be drinking, especially if you have kidney or liver issues.

Avoid: Empty Calories

Foods like potato chips, donuts, or French fries may satisfy hunger, but they won’t provide you with any nutrients you need; instead, all they’ll give you are a few extra pounds to work off. And since our activity levels tend to drop off as we get older, working off extra weight only gets harder. Avoid the situation all together by saying no to empty calories.

Seek Out: Fiber

Our digestive system slows as we get older, which can lead to issues like constipation. Foods rich in fiber help to move food through the digestive track and have also been shown to help combat heart disease and high cholesterol. Wholegrain breads and pastas, brown rice, and vegetables are just a few foods rich in fiber.

Sally Bernstein: Always on the Move

Sally Bernstein has been all around the world. Name a place, and she’s probably been there: she’s traveled through Europe, visited Japan and south- east Asia, ventured down under to Australia and New Zealand, and toured through South America. When asked how many countries she’s actually been to, she can’t answer – there are too many to remember.

But when she’s asked why she wanted to visit so many places around the world, Sally has an answer at the ready. “I wanted to see as much of the world as I could,” she says, “and I wanted to see it when I could.”

Being on the move has been something of a constant in Sally’s life. Originally from a North Dakota town of 6,000 people, she spent two years at the University of North Dakota and two years at the University of Minnesota studying to become a dental hygienist with the encouragement of her father, who was a dentist. When she graduated, Sally made the decision to move to San Mateo even though she didn’t know a soul in the Bay Area. “I wanted to get away from the weather,” she says, laughing.

Sally spent the next 48 years as a dental hygienist, getting to know generations of patients along the way. “I treated parents, their children, and then their children’s children,” she says. “I knew them all.” After retiring, Sally volunteered her time to organizations helping veterans and it quickly became her passion. She belongs to the Daughters of the American Revolution, the American Legion, and donates her time to veteran’s hospitals in the area.

“I always say ‘thank you’ to any veteran I see,” she says. “The way we treat our veterans in this country isn’t right. I want to do whatever I can to help.”

Through it all, Sally never lost her enthusiasm for travel. She visited China in 1971 just as it was opening its doors to the rest of the world. She counts Turkey as one of her most favorite places to visit, saying, “The people there were very nice, and it was an interesting country to see.” Traveling the world also instilled in her an appreciation for what she has in the United States. “You see how others live, the different conditions,” she says. “We have so much here. You appreciate what you have so much more when you get back home.”

Sally now calls Sterling Court home and couldn’t be happier about it. She’s made great friends since moving in last September and enjoys many of the activities and classes that are offered. “I’m a big history buff,” she says, “so I really enjoy the history classes they have here.” She also enjoys the chair yoga classes and spends time on the exercise bikes in the fitness center. Always one to take care of herself, Sally still goes to the gym twice a week.

Living at Sterling Court has other perks, according to Sally. “I love that I don’t have to cook or clean!” she says with a laugh. She’s also thankful for the staff. “I love all the people here, they couldn’t be nicer. You’re here one day, they already know your name.”

Having lived such an eventful and adventurous life already, it’s fair to wonder if Sally has a philosophy she espouses or a mantra to live by. Turns out she does, and it applies to her perfectly.

“You just have to keep moving,” she says. “That’s all.”

How To Find Your Long-Lost Friends

Do you ever think back to your high school days and wonder what happened to a good friend you never saw again after graduation? Or perhaps you were in the military and want to reconnect with the people who served in your unit. Maybe you lost touch with old co-workers years ago and think about what they might be up to these days.

People come and go in our lives all the time, but there are some we wish we’d held onto and stayed in touch with. If you find yourself in this category, there’s hope: today, finding your long-lost friends has never been easier. Here are some tips for starting the journey:

Collect and Gather Information

First things first: before you start, gather and organize all the information you have or can remember about your friend. Their full name, birthdate or approximate age, nicknames, past addresses or phone numbers, old schools, previous employers – all of this can help in your search. If you don’t have any of this information, don’t worry – there are still ways of finding someone. But the more info you have, the easier it will be.

Use Online Search Engines

You know about Google, but you may not know the most effective ways to search within it. Type in the name of your friend in quotation marks – such as “John Smith”– and then add any of the other details you may remember after that. “John Smith” San Francisco, for example. Or “John Smith” US Air Force 1955. You can comb through the results and see if your friend happens to pop up. And if you don’t have any luck with Google, lesser-known search engines such as may yield different results.

Join Social Media

Nearly 68% of adults in the United States are on Facebook, and the share of older Americans on the site has doubled since 2012. Finding people is relatively easy on Facebook, and there are group pages on the site for high school graduating classes, military units, and more. And if you’re worried about online privacy, there are steps you can take on the site to make your profile more secure. You can learn more about online security at the Sterling Court computer classes offered every Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Bristol Room.

Join Alumni and Military Websites

Many high schools and colleges around the country have their own alumni websites, and there are also all-encompassing sites like that have several alumni classes to look through. Many of these sites have contact information for their members, too. For the military, there are many government websites that house old records, such as the National Archives. There are also sites like the “Buddy Finder” on that are the Armed Forces version of the school alumni sites. Some of these sites cost money to join, so be sure to search around for one that’s free of charge.

Try the Library

If going online doesn’t appeal to you, there’s an old-fashioned option that might work. ReferenceUSA is a database that provides the most up-to-date information you can find about people all over the country. The San Mateo Public Library has access to the service, and you can use it for free with your library card. Librarians will be able to help walk you through the process of searching for your friend, too.

With a little bit of effort, you’ll be reconnecting with your long-lost friends in no time!

Jean Domingues: Still Going Strong

August 5, 2019

Spunky. Spirited. Determined. People have often used these words to describe Jean Domingues, and they all seem to fit – for good reason.

“I’m the oldest of 16 children,” Jean explained while sitting in her Sterling Court apartment. “You had to be strong-willed.”

Jean grew up on her family’s farm in Minnesota, but she had a bigger dream in mind: working for the airlines. She decided she wanted to move to California to make her dream happen. When her mother asked her why she thought she’d be able to get a job with an airline so easily, Jean displayed a dose of her trademark determination, telling her mother, “I don’t think I will—I know I will,” Jean said with a smile.

Her “go-get-it” attitude served her well in pursuit of her dream. United Airlines wanted to hire her, but insisted she move to Atlanta to work. Jean refused, more than once. “I’d been to Atlanta and didn’t enjoy it,” she said, “I wanted to come to California.”

United eventually relented, and Jean began working in the airline’s dispatch office at SFO. Although she left her job with United just a few years later, Jean had the good fortune of meeting her husband Julian (or “Gus” as everyone called him) while working there. He stayed with United and made a career for himself, while Jean pursued different career paths, including selling Mary Kay cosmetics for many years. “I like to be interested in what I’m doing, and I enjoy the challenge.”

Jean and Gus made the Peninsula their home, living in Burlingame and San Bruno. Together they had five children, and over the years several grandchildren. “I’m not sure how many!” Jean joked, laughing. “I think my parents had about 88 grandchildren. I know I have less than that!”

Gus passed away years ago, and since then, Jean has been staying active and keeping busy. She was a regular mass attendee at St. Robert’s Church in San Bruno, and on her first day at Sterling Court, she encountered one of her neighbors who was a fellow parishioner. “We both looked at each other and said, ‘What are you doing here?’” Each replied, ‘Well, I live here!’

Jean has remained active since moving to Sterling Court last August, taking full advantage of the transportation afforded to residents. “I take the bus everywhere… I like going out and staying busy.” She finds time to enjoy many of the activities that are offered, counting the exercise classes and Wii bowling as her favorites. She’s also made many new friends since moving here, including more people who attended the same church.

Still determined, still spirited, and still spunky – Jean Domingues’ address may have changed, but her personality remains the same. It’s clear that she’s found a home at Sterling Court. “Everybody here has been super nice,” Jean said, reflecting on her time here. “It’s just been unbelievable.

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