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Northampton County Centenarians honored

On Sept. 27, Northampton County Area Agency on Aging (NCAAA) Advisory Council celebrated 33 Centenarians who are residents of Northampton County and over 100 years young. State Representative Steve Samuelson, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure and NCAAA’s Administrator Laurie Greco presented state and county certificates of honor to the Honorees.

Those honored included Mary Bach, Margaret Bonniwell, Millicent Breiner, Harold Brunell, Esther Cressman, Grace DeMarco, Lucy Dicampli, Margaret Firuta, Edith Flick, Catherine Gaudesh, Gladys Hancock, Muriel Hartline, Louis Hegedus, Alois Himsl, Dorothy Hocking, Dr. Caroline Hollshwander, Kathryn Jacobs, Ollie Lawson, Ivy Lewis, Rose Magdasy, Mary Mertz, Marian Montz, Helena Rapp, Alverta Reddinger, Kathryn Schaivone, Kenneth Singer, Naomi Smith, Pauline Takacs, Alberta Marguerite Thomas, Angelica Ventin, Catherine Weidner, Lucille Whitmer and Anna Wolper.

Mary Bach was born Sept. 28, 1917. Mary lived in the Mt. Bethel area on her father’s farm between Rts. 611 and 512 where there is now a mall. She had two brothers and one sister. One brother died young of a heart condition. Through the years her Dad owned several farms to raise cattle which he sold. Mary attended a two-room school and then went on to Portland High School. Her high school basketball team won the championships in the 1930s. Mary married in 1934 and had a son and a daughter. She is still a member of the Women’s Club of Bangor. Members of the club were recently cited by the Blue Valley Times for installing a welcome sign to Bangor. Her family was involved in helping Dr. Wolf with the Roseto Study, a landmark project. The study researched Roseto residents to determine reasons for their longevity. Mary is surprised she lived to be 100 and credits not smoking or drinking. She is proud of her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren but concerned about the world situation today and worries about their future.

Margaret Bonniwell was born Oct. 17, 1917, in Philadelphia. Margaret lived in Bethlehem. Growing up she had four brothers and they called her “Peg”. She was married to a wonderful man who was a pilot. Now her grandson Michael is a pilot and flies the President of the United States! She is quite proud of him. She had two children both girls Betsy and Nancy. Margaret was a secretary working at different places throughout her career. Her secret to aging well was to depend on God; she says the rosary every day. She says prayer helps a lot. She values her husband’s love. He was very good to her throughout their marriage always giving her gifts for birthdays and anniversaries, mostly jewelry. Her best advice is to be honest and true in your life.

Millicent Breiner was born Oct. 12, 1918, in Easton to the McCollough family. Millie (her nickname) had three sisters and one brother who went to Moravian Church every Sunday. She graduated from Easton High School and received a college scholarship but could not accept because she had no transportation. Millie was married twice and had four children, all boys. She had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. During the war, she worked at the paper mill in Milford, NJ, while the men were in the service. The owner kept her on when the men came home because he considered her just as good as the men. Millie considered herself a fast learner and mastered the Amish stitch crochet. She values most in life her family and friends. Her advice for a good life is to keep busy, stay positive and be as active as possible.

Harold Brunell was born Sept. 18, 1915, and raised in Wassergass. Harold grew up with two sisters and two brothers. There were no school buses; everyone walked to school. His first job was at Bethlehem Steel during World War II. After he married, he and his wife lived in Richlandtown and he worked in Quakertown. He enjoyed gardening. Harold’s advice for aging well is to live a clean life, stop smoking, and have one glass of wine daily.

Esther Cressman was born Sept. 2, 1918, in her parents’ home in Hellertown. Esther had one sister. She met her husband one evening when he went to the movies where she worked selling tickets at the Lehigh Theater on 4th St. He was living at the time in South Carolina and visiting his brother in Bethlehem. Later they married and moved down south; their two sons were born in North Carolina. In the 50s, they moved to Bethlehem so her husband could work at Bethlehem Steel. Esther then started work at the Belt Factory and later became a supervisor in the plant, then located on Hanover Ave.; she retired in 1983. She loves her family; she worked hard, kept busy and lived a quiet life.

Grace DeMarco was born Feb. 27, 1916, in Pittsburgh. Grace had three siblings. After graduation from Perry High School, she worked in the restaurant in Horn’s Department Store in Pittsburgh. She married at 28 and had one son. Grace drove a car until she was 99. She quit because she considered her reflexes were slowing down; she did not want to have an accident and kill someone. She was very active in Palmer Moravian Church, working in its annual rummage sale and Strawberry Festival. She is concerned about the future of this country and its people, especially for her granddaughters and her two great-granddaughters. Life is more complicated than when she was a child. Grace credits her longevity to good genes.

Lucy Dicampli was born March 29, 1918, in Roseto, Pa. Lucy was one of five siblings. She has two daughters, one of whom lives next door to her; the other daughter lives in California. She has three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Lucy went to work at age 14 as a sewig machine operator. She became a union representative and once a year the Mathew Duvo Co. where she worked treated the representatives to a day at the Unity House Resort which she enjoyed. She met her husband through a friend. He worked at Bethlehem Steel. This was the reason for their move from Roseto to Bethlehem. Lucy had a good life growing up and her happiest times are with her children. She was given the nick name “Big” by her family because she was so small. A celebration of her 100th birthday was held at Gaglione’s Cucina. Her secret to aging well is to take one day at a time and enjoy it. The things she most values are her family and friends. Her words of wisdom are to be honest and cordial to everyone.

Margaret Firuta was born Oct. 2, 1915, in Gates, Pa. (near Pittsburgh). Margaret attended elementary school and went on to finish high school. After school, Margaret worked in several insurance companies as a billing clerk until she met her husband. They were married 62 years and had two daughters of whom one is deceased. Margaret had two brothers and one sister. Both of Margaret’s brothers were in the military. Margaret’s father worked in the coal mines, but it became too dangerous so they moved to New Jersey. Before marriage, Margaret and a group of girlfriends liked socializing; they enjoyed dancing very much and would go to the seashore and the mountains where they liked walking the trails. Today Margaret lives with her daughter with whom she plays 500 Rummy; she wins half the time. She loves to read the newspaper and go to the hairdresser. She also enjoys working in the garden. Margaret’s a fond lover of animals and has a pet canary. She is the caretaker of all the outside wild animals and loves to feed them all. Margaret advises that to age well, take one day at a time. She never smoked or drank alcohol. She went to the doctor as soon as she wasn’t feeling well. Sixteen years ago Margaret had quadruple bypass surgery and she has exercised faithfully since to stay well.

Edith Flickwas born Aida D’Errico Nov. 28, 1918, in Bethlehem. When she started school as a young child, her teachers were not familiar with the name Aida so they named her Edith. Her father was born in Naples, Italy, and came to America when he was 17 years old. Her mother followed from Apeca, Italy, when Edith was 1½ years old. Edith had 12 siblings; she is the only surviving child. Edith has three children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. After quitting school in the 11th grade to care for her ailing mother, Edith attended business school while working as an estimator at Bethlehem Steel, a job she loved. Edith married her brother’s good friend. Her husband attended Lehigh University for 3½ years before being drafted into the Army. He was an MP whose responsibility was to guard a Japanese prisoner. Her husband had a wallet size photo of his wife that was in view of the prisoner who did a beautiful 8 x 10 in. pencil sketch of Edith. She now had it framed and proudly displays it in her living room. Her secrets to aging well are to stay active and eat balanced meals. (However, she eats an ice cream cone every night.) She still cooks her own meals and loves to bake. She volunteers, goes to bible study, plays cards and exercises. She loves to read and can easily read a book in an evening. Her advice for a long life is to share it with family and friends.

Catherine Gaudesh was born March 14, 1918, in Pennsylvania. Catherine lived in Palmer Township with her two sisters, Barbara and Justine. Never married, she worked at Schaible’s Bakery for 35 years. Her father was a carpenter and was very strict, a member of St. Michaels Church in Easton. Catherine always worked hard helping her mother with chores such as scrubbing floors and washing dishes. She never drank alcohol or smoked. She attributes her long life to growing and eating her own vegetables from hera garden, keeping busy by walking and exercising and not just lying around!

Gladys Hancock was born Oct. 31, 1914, in Northampton. Gladys attended grades 1-8 in a one-room school house in Mt. Bethel. She graduated from Portland High School. Her father was a farmer, and Gladys helped him on his farm by driving the tractor. She had one sister and was active in her church. She believes strongly in helping people.

Louis Hegedus was born Oct. 17, 1917. Louis’s friends called him Louie. He lived in Bethlehem and had one brother, John. Louis married Catherine and they had two girls. He worked at Bethlehem Steel for many years in maintenance and liked his job. Life lessons he learned: work hard, eat healthy, exercise and live a good life. He values his health and never drank alcohol.

Alois Himsl was born Sept. 20, 1916, in Avon, Minn., the second of ten children who grew up and worked on a farm with all kinds of animals. They went to a one-room schoolhouse with eight grades. Alois served in the Army in World War II traveling to both Europe and Asia in his 25-year career. He met his wife in Austria in the same village where his grandparents had lived. He has one son and one daughter. His wife died at age 67; he has three siblings who are alive. He spent a lot of time in Austria and learned to speak German. Later he worked in the Pentagon as a translator of German war documents. Presently he bowls three times a week and still drives. He is proud of his 25-year career in the military.

Dorothy Hocking was born in Bangor Dec. 29, 1917. She was called Dot most of her life. She had a younger sister and an older brother. After graduating from high school in 1935, she attended Churchman’s School and later worked at Country Miss. She married her husband on New Year’s Eve, 1939. They had two sons, and now have a granddaughter and a grandson. Dot believes in keeping busy and she advises that it helps to mind your own business! For many years she helped at the Blue Valley Farm Show in the Slate Belt. She also helped with making pasties at her church. In addition to valuing her independence, she values her family.

Dr. Caroline Hollshwander was born Sept. 2,1918, in her parents’ home on Carlton Avenue in Bethlehem. She is the last member of her family of 10 siblings still living; three children died in infancy and she grew up with two brothers and five sisters. When she was in her 20s she moved to Pittsburgh to study nursing and graduated as a Registered Nurse (RN). She earned $98/month at the Allentown Hospital, taking a trolley daily from her home on Itaska Street. Later when St. Luke’s Hospital offered her $25/month more, she went to work there. She moved to Marquette University in Wisconsin to continue her studies and received her B.A. plus additional courses in nursing. In the 1950s, she worked in the Catholic Relief Services clinic in Hong Kong, serving the poor boat people. Returning to PA, she studied and received her Ph.D. degree from Jefferson Medical School in 1972. She worked in Philadelphia until 1974 when Allentown College offered her a great opportunity- to create the Nursing Program at the college. In 1975, Professor Hollshwander taught her first class of 14 nursing students (they entered the program when they were sophomores); the first class of nursing students graduated from the college in 1978. Later she created their Master’s Nursing Program. She received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Allentown College. After retirement she volunteered for 20 years in the pre-school of her church -Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church on Old Bethlehem Pike. She believes in moderation in her activities and credits good genes for her longevity. Dr. Hollshwander values family, friends, church and spirituality in her life.

Kathryn Jacobs was born Sept. 13,1918, in Allentown. Kathryn’s nickname is Kate but to her family she is known as Oma. Kathryn has two sons and one daughter. Her one son lives in Olympia, WA, and has two sons, and her daughter lives in Hellertown and has three children. Kathryn has five grandchildren who loved to go camping with her husband. They traveled throughout the United States in a truck camper. Kathryn held teaching positions in Moser, Sheridan, and Jefferson; her final teaching position was at Allentown High School. When she was three months pregnant, she had to leave her position because it was school policy. Kathryn was a swimmer and she enjoys watching the summer Olympics on TV. She drove a car up to 97 years of age.

Ollie Lawson was born Nov. 21, 1913, in Thomas County, Georgia. Ollie was one of seven children, three girl and four boys, who grew up on a farm in the South during years of prejudice and discrimination. The children went to a school for blacks. Ollie left school after the sixth grade to work on the farm and to do housecleaning. When she turned 18, she moved to Miami, for more opportunities. There she met her husband, Birden. They had one daughter, Mildren. Ollie and Birden later moved to Bridgeport, CT, and then to Stratford where she proudly served as a deaconess at the First Baptist Church for 24 years. When asked how the country had changed since her childhood, she said it had greatly improved for the colored people. She says she attributes her long life to her faith in God.

Ivy Lewis was born March 12, 1919. Ivy came to the United States from Jamaica at the age of 11 with her parents. They lived in Harlem, NY. She had two brothers and two sisters. One of her first jobs was to take care of an elderly lady who lived in Manhattan. She married Barris Lewis and they had a daughter; now they have a grandson Wesley. She attributes her long life to her belief in God. She advises to “hang tough in life” and live a clean life. She never drank alcohol or smoked, but she does like chocolate.

Rose Magdasy was born December 7, 1918, the oldest of seven children, six brothers and one sister. All were taller than she, but she admits to being the “commander in chief” of them all! When she was seven years old, the family moved from Drifton, PA, to Bethlehem where she graduated from Bethlehem High School in 1937. She worked in the garment industry’s office in Allentown in their statistical department for several years. After she married Bill (who was a mechanic), she later worked for Alice Kay Women’s Apparel where she learned to sew clothing and made clothes for her whole family. She later resigned to stay at home and raise their two daughters, Jane and Jill, and to help her husband restore his antique cars. She sewed all of the leather upholstery in the antique cars and was especially proud of the 1929 Chrysler Cabriolet that took the Governor’s Prize in Maryland and the 1930 Dodge that appeared in the movie, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” filmed in Jim Thorpe in 1973. Rose credits good genes, a sense of humor and a positive personality for her longevity. She reads novels, does the newspaper puzzles daily and loves riding in her daughter’s convertible with the “top down”!

Helena Rapp was born Feb. 3, 1918, at the end of WWI at her grandmother’s house in Jim Thorpe. Helena has a brother who is 92 and a sister who is 98 years old. Her father was born in Syria and came to the U.S. on a cargo ship when he was 17. He settled in Patterson, N.J., and owned a grocery store. During the Great Depression, when the employees of the Dixie Cup Co. were on strike, he gave them all a line of credit. Helena was a secretary at the Dixie Cup Company in Wilson Borough. She took shorthand and worked for the assistant to the CEO who was Hugh Moore. She made $6.50 a week and had to give her father $3 for board. She met her husband at the Blue Bird Restaurant in Easton where Coke’s were five cents. Her husband to be soon found out she would be swimming at Eddyside Park in her 1-piece white wool bathing suit and went to see her. She married at age 22 and became pregnant. At that time, as soon as you showed signs of being pregnant, you had to stop working. Her son was 6 months old when her husband went into the navy. She has a son and daughter. Her great passion is shopping and always looking nice. She loved shopping at Lerners Shop, Orr’s and Sigals in Easton. Her secret to aging well is positive thinking which is half the battle. She said you should “live each day and enjoy it!” What she values most is her good health.

Alverta Reddinger was born Sept. 29, 1915, in North Bangor. Alverta says her secrets to age well are working hard, never drinking or smoking, and believing in God. She has learned throughout life to keep busy. She values most in life her family of two daughters, two granddaughters, two grandsons, one great-grandson, and four great-granddaughters. Alverta’s advice to live by is to be a good and honest person and to respect everyone.

Kathryn Schaivone was born Dec. 23, 1917, in the Slate Belt. Kathryn had three brothers and three sisters. She and her husband, Eugene, had two daughters and two sons. For 35 years, Kathryn owned a store in downtown Pen Argyl called “Deb Wear,” selling women’s clothes that she made. Her secret to aging well is to eat healthy, not to drink or smoke and also not to be lazy. Kathryn is fond of chocolate and feels that is helpful too.

Kenneth Singer was born Sept. 17, 1918, in Effort. Kenneth, known as Kenny, as a young man worked on a farm in Hecktown. During World War II he was in the Army Corps of Engineers and was among those who worked on the AlCan Highway, considered vital to the war effort. After his service, he worked in the Ore Handling Department, Bethlehem Steel Plant. He had three children, Wilson, Kenny, and Sylvia. There are many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He tried to follow his Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother’s advice to “live one day at a time.” He also continues to value his independence and shares his home with a grandson.

Naomi Smith was born Aug. 31, 1915, in Reading. Naomi had two sisters. She was married to Wendell Smith for 60 years; she had two daughters and now has three grandchildren and two great-grandsons, ages 14 and 16, whom she sees often. She was involved with the Campfire Girls in Los Angeles, moving to Ohio in 1952. She now lives in Northampton County to be near her grandchildren. Naomi has always been a gardener and attributes her longevity to all the home-grown vegetables she has eaten, as well as daily pie and ice cream. Every day she works on her crossword puzzles and is an avid reader. Her advice: love life!

Pauline Takacs was born Feb. 6, 1918. Pauline is a lifelong resident of Northampton. She is the second oldest of seven children of Harry and Anna Pidstawski who emigrated from the Ukraine around 1911. Pauline was married to Charles John Takacs on June 5, 1937. A daughter, Nancy Ann, was born in July of 1938. A son was born in October of 1949. Pauline has five grandchildren and seven great -grandchildren, Pauline worked at Universal Pants Company in Northampton. She sewed pants and worked on military uniforms during World War II. She was appointed floor lady during her later years and worked as a floor lady until she retired. She is a lifelong member of St. John the Baptist Church in Northampton. She participated in many activities which included fund raising, bake sales and pierogi making. She is also a member of the Ladies Auxiliary. In addition to this, Pauline worked the voting polls. Throughout the years, Pauline has enjoyed numerous activities including sewing clothes for her family, playing cards, bowling and caring for other family members. She remembers taking the trolley, getting indoor plumbing in the house and her first ride in a Model T truck. She tells stories of the Great Depression and Prohibition in Northampton. Her favorite President was Franklin Roosevelt and in particular she remembers the blue/gold stars in the windows of houses during the war. She remembers going to the Roxy Theater on Tuesday nights and collecting free dishes they handed out. One of the highlights of her life was a trip to the Holy Lands with her husband when they visited Israel, Rome and Germany. Pauline has led a full and gratifying life. Her family appreciates her and reveres her as the Family Matriarch.

Alberta Marguerite Thomas was born Sept. 13, 1917, in McMichaels in Monroe County. Alberta (she prefers to be called Bert) was one of nine children (three brothers and six sisters) who lived on a farm along with her grandparents and a cousin. Bert quit school after the eighth grade because she did not like school. She preferred to do housework and worked at the Blue Mountain Hotel for an aunt and uncle. It was here where Bert met her husband. After her children were born, Alberta went to work in the Blouse mill and retired from the mill. Alberta has a daughter and a son, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson on the way. Bert is a great baker and known for her delicious sticky buns throughout Northampton and Monroe Counties. Bert says that hard work is her secret for aging well. When one asks Bert what she has learned about life, she says to work hard and have a little fun. She values her friends and is always looking out for them. Bert’s best advice to us to live by is to work hard.

Angelica Ventin was born Nov. 17, 1916, in Nazareth, to her father Andrew and mother Rosa. “Angie” had 10 brothers and a sister, a few of whom died young. She met her husband Ettore at a dance in Nazareth and they were married in 1935. They had two boys, John and Steve. She believes she had six grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren but not sure how many. Angie worked as a sewing machine operator for Beverly Blouse for ~10 years. She also was a homemaker. Her father used to make wine. She never smoked or drank alcohol. Her advice is to live a clean life and always be kind to others.

Catherine Weidner was born Dec. 17,1917, in Winston-Salem, N.C. Catherine grew up in Winston-Salem with her one brother and four sisters. The family attended a Moravian church where Catherine was very active in the Sunday school and choir, taught Bible school, and attended summer camps. At age 10 she decided to marry a Moravian minister. She met Mervin Weidner, a pre-theological student, at Moravian College on a blind date in 1935 and began a six-year courtship long distance, he in Bethlehem and she in Winston-Salem. They married in 1941 and had five children, one son and four daughters. Catherine served as a partner in ministry with her husband in many states, as an organist, choir director, and Sunday school teacher. They were married for 64 years, in what she calls “a match made in heaven.” She attributes her longevity to a strong faith, dedicating her life to serving God and living a good life.

Anna Wolper was born Oct. 12, 1917, in Easton. Anna was a member of Easton High School, class of 1935. Anna had a son, David, and a daughter, Judith Ann; there are five grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. She had one sister, Jean. She believes that the good Lord provided for her. Her faith and her family mean more to her than life itself. She has learned that taking things as they come and being true to yourself are among the important lessons she has learned throughout her life.

Muriel Hartline was born Jan. 28, 1914, in Camden, N.J. Muriel worked as bookkeeper for Penn Mutual Life Insurance in Philadelphia. As a child she liked to dress up in her moth- er’s clothes with her sisters in the attic. She married and had two children. She never drank soda or alcoholic beverages and attributes her longevity to drinking milk. Her advice in life is to mind your own business and to believe in God. Mostly she values her family and friends. She states that God has been her guide throughout her life.

Mary Mertz was born Dec. 14, 1917 in Nazareth. She attended Nazareth High School, the class of 1936. She had two brothers and two sisters. Her favorite subject was spelling. She didn’t really care for math. She was the only student who drove a car to high school. It was a 1934 Chevy Coupe, jet black, making her the envy of her classmates, male and female. When asked what her secret to a long life is, Mary responded, “At the age of 14 years old I promised my mom and dad, I would never smoke or drink. I kept my word. As a resident of Nazareth in 1942, she was part of the female police patrol, monitoring safety in town. She recalls once having to stop Mario Andretti for speeding, reminding him to watch for the children!

Lucille Whitmer was born Dec. 24, 1916, in Bethlehem. She and her sisters went to Liberty High School. Lucille’s favorite subjects were biology and science, leading her to St. Luke’s Hospital where she received her degree in Nursing. When asked about changes in her life over the years, Lucille noted airplanes and computers. Her family always went to church and were raised in her faith. Kids today, she said, are not as religious. What does she attribute to aging well? Lucille says I have nothing to do with it. Her father lived to be 102, while her mother was in her 80s.

Marian Montz was born Aug. 29, 1918 in Bethlehem. She had a sister, Geraldine, who passed in 2000. Marian attended Liberty High School Class of 1937. After high school her first job was in Murphy’s 5 & 10 store. Then she worked for the Bethlehem Blind Association as their “Girl Friday”, meaning a little bit of everything. Over the next 20 years she worked for three different dentists. During her retirement years, she learned how to paint using watercolors and continued her needlepoint. With her husband, she traveled and spent time with her family. Her daughter, Karen, lives with her in Bethlehem. When asked what her secret is to living a long life, Marian said to “find something good everyday and always be willing to give of yourself.”

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