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Ann Wertman honored as 2023 Unsung Hero

Lehigh County’s Office of Aging and Adult Services celebrated recently with its 23rd annual tribute to Unsung Heroes at Fellowship Community, Whitehall Township.

More than a dozen older individuals and one group were recognized for their time and talents to support others in their communities.

The presentations were made by Clayton Reed Jr., executive director of the Office of Aging and Adult Services, Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong and Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Aging Jason Kavulich.

According to information provided by the Office of Aging and Adult Services, Ann Wertman, of Lowhill Township, was one of 18 Lehigh County residents and a group of nine people honored.

This tribute, in honor of Older Americans Month, celebrates older adults in the Lehigh Valley who have displayed exceptional generosity with their time and talents to enrich the lives of others in the community.

During this annual recognition ceremony, each honoree received a certificate from Lehigh County Aging and Adult Services, a certificate from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and citations from their local legislators.

They also received a book on the history of Lehigh County, an Unsung Hero pin, an Unsung Hero yard sign and flowers.

According to Wertman’s tribute written by Richard Farmer, a volunteer with the Friends of the 1803 House in Emmaus:

“I am Richard T. Farmer, president of the Friends of the 1803, Inc. The Friend’s annually are host of Old-Fashioned Christmas at our historical restored Pennsylvania farmhouse.

“The mission of the Friends is to restore and preserve the colonial federal style Pennsylvania pioneer home and educate our visitors about life in Emmaus.

“Each year we display a small decorated fir tree. At the historic 1803 House in Emmaus, knowing Ann had become an avid Christmas collector, the late Ardath Rodale and Elsie Yarema asked her to decorate their period Christmas tree for the 1986 holiday open house.

“Ever since then, Ann has annually answered the call of our board to decorate our Christmas tree with Colonial ornaments from her personal collection for more than 37 years, making Ann a truly unsung hero to this historic gem in Emmaus.

“She goes to many auctions and antique centers to collect these decorations. We can’t wait for her annual decorating of our little holiday tree, and we are grateful for her regular volunteering at the 1803 House.

“Perhaps you are asking where else has Ann excelled as a volunteer? Ann Wertman grew up as a farm girl in Berks County and, on occasion, you may still catch her proud Pennsylvania German accent.

“In the early 1970s, as a young mother of two, Ann first volunteered as a political party committee person in Lynn Township, which opened the door to her eight-year role as legislative aide to the late state Rep. Joseph Zeller, giving her contact with many local residents and organizations.

“In the mid-1970s, Ann also began a 30-year career with Lehigh County and became a member of the Seipstown Grange 1657, quickly assuming the role of lecturer/program chairwoman, leading the Grange’s pivotal role in community service.

“In 1990, under Ann’s leadership, Seipstown Grange began its biannual litter cleanup of eight miles of Route 100 between Fogelsville and Route 309, plus the three-mile stretch of Claussville Road, on which the Grange Hall was located.

“This massive task has continued.

“Also in 1998, Ann expanded her ongoing volunteer tree decorating to the Liberty Bell Museum, sometimes creating more than a dozen sparkling trees using her collections.

“Becoming a life companion to World War II and Korean War veteran Joe Zeller, Ann automatically expanded her footprint to include appreciation for the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans.

“In 1995, Ann was among a large roster of fundraising volunteers bringing recognition to Lehigh Valley’s ‘Korea-Vietnam Memorial’ project through the ‘10 Days in May’ walk from Washington, D.C. to Allentown.

“Ann was one of only seven supporters who walked the entire route.

“With Joe as the chairman, she automatically served as secretary for many causes, a few being the multiday 100th anniversary celebration of both Allentown’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument and the historic Allentown Flag Day Association, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Korean War.

“As secretary-treasurer, Ann continues to be the backbone of the Allentown Flag Day Association, now in its 116th year.

“For four years beginning in 2013, Ann became the first non-shipmate president of Joe’s World War II USS Ranger CV-4 Reunion Group.

“After retirement, Ann served a 10-year stint as secretary and board member of the Lehigh Valley Beekeepers Association.

“She also intensified one of her favorite roles being a volunteer blood and platelet donor, surpassing her 65th gallons donation last December.

“A decade ago, at the Liberty Bell Museum, she was added to the board of directors, as board secretary.

“In this role, she also took the reins of the annual multiday Little Shoppers Village, creating holiday memories for scores of children.

“After being a caregiver to Joe, who died at age 100 in 2018, Ann joined the board of the Weisenberg Lowhill Historical Society as secretary, thus concurrently secretary for three boards.

“Ann also routinely pens releases for the Lehigh Valley Press weekly newspapers.

“Truly a tireless volunteer for many causes, the board of Emmaus’s Historic 1803 House, as one recipient, is proud to give kudos to Ann Wertman, a unique Unsung Hero.”

PRESS PHOTO by Lou Wheeland Clayton Reed Jr., executive director of Lehigh County Aging and Adult Services, Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong and Jason Kavulich, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, stand with Ann Wertman, of Lowhill Township, at the Unsung Heroes tribute held recently at Fellowship Community, Whitehall.