The SouthCoast’s favorite (retired) bartender is on the mend after hip surgery, and even as Gilda Pietragalla Downey faces a period of recovery just weeks shy of her 98th birthday, she’s thinking about others instead of herself.

Downey ran Gilda’s Stone Rooster on the Marion-Wareham line for over 40 years before she finally retired last year, just a few weeks before her 97th birthday. She had been enjoying retirement over the past year, until she fell and fractured her hip on Tuesday, according to her longtime friend Dr. Michael Rocha.

Dr. Rocha said Wednesday that the surgery went well.

“All of your prayers and warm wishes were answered. Gilda is out of surgery and will be taking her next steps of recovery starting tomorrow!” he posted on Wednesday.

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In true Gilda fashion, however, she was selflessly thinking about all of the rest of us even as she lay in her hospital bed following surgery.

“Life is beautiful, don’t let it slip by,” Downey conveyed through Dr. Rocha. “Sure, life has its ups and downs, I’ve been there and sometimes you have to pick yourself up.”

She also offered up her own “prescription” for life, including tips such as “take care of your body with exercise, which will take away your frustrations and get your body in gear,” as well as “find your true friends who will make you feel alive and so happy.”

It’s safe to say that in her nearly 98 years, Downey has made a number of true friends all across the SouthCoast. She was selected for a Townie Award in 2021 for “Prohibition-Born Bartender Turned Spunky Style Icon,” and it was by far the most popular award we gave out.

Downey also added one bit of advice in her “prescription” that is one of the keys to her long life: “Forget your age and add a little wiggle to that walk,” she said. Anyone who has been around Downey whenever her beloved jazz music is playing has seen her take her own advice.

Despite hip surgery, knowing Gilda, it won’t be too long before she’s doing it again.

“Thank you to everyone that has been providing excellent care at St. Luke’s Hospital,” Dr. Rocha posted. “She will add a little wiggle to her walk again soon.”

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