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On April 4th, 2008, Manuel Vicente Osorio Rios, 100 years old, posed as a proud American citizen, becoming the first Arizonian and the 11th in the nation to be naturalized at 100 years old, the day before his 101st birthday. He recalled the special day as one of the proudest moments in his life; it was a life-long dream to become an American citizen.

       Manuel Vicente Osorio Rios, Vicente as he is known, was born on April 5, 1907 in Huaraz, Peru, to his parents Isabel Rios, who lived to be 99 years old, and Juan Rios, who passed away from tuberculosis when he was 35 years old. Vicente is the eldest of four siblings and only achieved a first grade education as he took parental responsibilities to help his mother with the children and household tasks when his father tragically passed away.
       He began to work at the youthful age of 14 as a diligent servant  to a wealthy family. All his income went  directly  to his family to overcome the  difficulties  of  being


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poor. At the innocent age of 17, Vicente enrolled himself in the military where he owned his first pair of boots, learned to speak Spanish, read and learned how to drive a car. In the military, he was admired and respected by his many peers for not only being extremely hardworking and considerate, but, also, displaying a jaunty, confident outlook on life and entertaining them with his singing. At 21 years old, Vicente was discharged from the military and became a chauffeur for an agency that contracted to the wealthy. With his earnings, Vicente bought land in Paltay and built three houses side by side for his mother, siblings and himself. At the prime age of 28, Vicente was still chauffeuring. On a train ride home from Lima to Caraz he met and fell in love with Vitalia.
          In 1940, Vicente married the beautiful Vitalia at the mature age of 33 years and had four children: a daughter who died in the land slide of Huaraz in 1941, Jorge Arana, Raul and Carmen. As he built his clientele, Vitatlia encouraged him to begin his own chauffeuring business. In 1954, Vicente bought his first truck. He named it Callejon de Huaylas, after the route that he drove back and forth to transport people, wheat, flour and vegetables.
          The year of 1969 was the peak of his success as he had 10 trucks, but worked an average of 105 hours a week to put his children through college; he thought education was very important to succeed in life. He was dearly admired by his clientele and was called the “pioneer” of transporting goods to the mountainous towns of Peru. In 1970, there was an earthquake that destroyed the roads of Vicente’s route; he could not work and the bank took over his trucks, except for one. His son, Jorge, became a police officer and later became an entrepreneur like his father. His second son, Raul, went to medical school in
Spain and became a gynecologist. His daughter, Carmen, obtained her Ph.D. in Spanish Literature. In 1970, Vicente sold his company; he and his wife moved to Lima to live with their daughter, Carmen.
          In 1973, Vicente and Vitalia went to the United States for the first time to visit Raul in Rochester, New York. The cold weather was too much; after two months they returned to Peru as Vitalia’s health was deteriorating. In 1974 she passed away from renal cancer.
          Vicente moved to the United States in 1982 and lived with Raul’s family. Raul’s wife, Theresa, helped him apply for his residency and enrolled him into a senior center near their home. At 75 years old, he returned to school to learn how to speak English. Though he began to understand the language, he could not speak it well. He moved in with his daughter, Carmen, in 1985 and dedicated his time to helping her raise her three daughters. He also continued to be involved with the senior center.
          In 1990, Vicente wanted to give back to the city of Caraz, Peru, and decided to donate his house that he lived in with his family, on the condition that it would be turned into a museum and a library to promote education. He used the money that he received from other rental properties to pay for maintenance of the house.
          Another great accomplishment was in 1991, when he drove from Arizona to Washington, D.C., with his son-in-law to meet the President of Peru. He donated 12 tons of medical equipment that his son Raul obtained from hospitals and private donors.
          Currently, Vicente continues to attend the senior center during the week and on weekends he devotes spending time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He absolutely loves and adores his family. He currently has 12 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren who worship him dearly; he is known and beloved as “Papa Chente.” Having achieved his goal of becoming a United States citizen, Vicente’s new goal is to meet President Obama.

— submitted by Vicente's family; edited for publication.

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