Aunt Cecilia is 100 Years Old Today!

A centenarian! That’s what my Aunt Cecelia is today. Born March 28, 1915, Aunt Ceci is one-hundred years old. According to one source, only 7347 U. S. citizens are now 100 years old, and today my aunt has joined their ranks. Special things will happen to her today. Aunt Cecilia Risser Metzler will receive a letter from President Obama. Friends and relatives will send her cards. Her family is planning a reception in her honor. Who knows what else is in store for her.

Last May, when Mother was still alive I wrote a post about her and her sister-in-law Cecilia, then both nonagenarians. You can read it here. Aunt Cecilia is my last remaining aunt on my mother’s side of the family. She’s IT. And what a life she has lived!

In an article that ran in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal (Sept. 20, 2004) journalist Lori Van Ingen listed all the volunteer service that has spanned Aunt Cecilia’s life time. Mother sent this article to me with a sticky note referring to her own volunteering at C. B, Choice Books.

2004_0920_The Intelligence+note

Her Service

  • Pastor’s wife with my Uncle, Rev. Clyde Metzler at Hernley’s Mennonite Church near Manheim for 31 years (1943-1974) where visiting members and volunteering got into her blood, where it became “her line of work, really,” she says. She sent out 15-18 birthday cards monthly for many years.
  • Partner with her husband at Mount Joy Furniture Hospital, Mount Joy, PA
  • Volunteer at Nearly Nu Thrift Shop in Manheim, PA.
  • Kitchen Assistant for 5 years for Meals on Wheels where she created menus and was involved in daily food preparation.
  • Served at Mt. Hope Dunkard Brethren Home in Manheim for 7 years, feeding residents, pushing wheelchairs, writing letters for them, and doing some mending. She also played the harmonica for residents, a skill she learned from her dad.
  • Volunteer at The Mennonite Home for 8 years where she fed and read to the residents, worked in the thrift shop at the home and helped in the laundry.

Some Losses

The life of Cecilia Risser Metzler, volunteer extraordinaire, has not been a bed of roses unless one considers that roses have thorns. Her youngest daughter Eunice, engaged to be married to Robert Keener, died suddenly of complications from a congenital heart condition. A few years after Eunice’s death, Clyde and Cecilia drove from their home in Pennsylvania to Goshen, Indiana to attend Robert’s subsequent wedding to Rhoda, but not without misgivings. The Metzlers both had considered Bob a member of the family, so it felt awkward to attend his marriage to someone else, another reminder of the loss of their precious Eunice. In the course of time, however, Bob’s wife Rhoda learned about the death of Cecilia’s husband Clyde only 4 years after their daughter’s death and wanted to know more about Cecilia as a real person, and not just the mother of Eunice, her husband’s former fiancée.

Uncle Clyde and Aunt Cecilia Metzler attending the wedding reception of Robert and Rhoda Keener in Goshen, Indiana - March 18, 1972
Uncle Clyde and Aunt Cecilia Metzler attending the wedding reception of Robert and Rhoda Keener in Goshen, Indiana – March 18, 1972. Illustration in the article “a friendship that might not have been” by Rhoda Keener in Christian Living magazine

Rhoda writes of Cecilia’s strong faith and of how she coped with two losses by organizing a group of seven other widows to do volunteer work, eat out together — even play Pitch and Putt Golf. This jolly group went to the mountains and seashore at Cape May regularly. One year Cecilia attended a Super Bowl game.

Game Girl / Cheerleader

Did I mention Cecilia is a game girl too? Competitive and exuberant by nature, Cecilia loves playing board games, card games, dominoes – even computer card games. She paused long enough in her game of Tumbling Numbers on the computer to have her photo taken with my sister Jan, brother Mark and me last November at Landis Homes.


Besides a game girl, some would call Cecilia a cheer-leader too. However, she doesn’t need a short, twirly skirt or megaphone to root for the Phillies’ baseball team or the Philadelphia Eagles. She admits to not quite understanding football though her son Clair has given her some pointers. In her home town, she was also an avid Manheim Central Barons fan because she was a close neighbor of coach Mike Williams for 25 years. When the state champion Barons had their parade in the fall of 2003, Cecilia “took her place in the square to cheer their accomplishment. When Williams saw her, he stopped the parade, got out of his convertible and gave her a big hug.” She said:

I was so amazed, stunned. I thought he’d wave, but didn’t think he’d stop the parade!

Coach Williams also dropped by her Landis Homes apartment to autograph her Baron’s snow globe (quoted from Intelligencer Journal, cited above.)

Words of Wisdom

“What is your secret of a long and productive life, Aunt Cecilia?” we wonder. She has shared two bits of wisdom to overcoming the rough spots in life. Remember this, she says:

  1. Life is a struggle, and
  2. Life is a struggle

“Once we truly know that life is difficult and we truly understand and accept it, then we are no longer overwhelmed by it.”  (Reference: “A friendship that might not have been,” by Rhoda Keener in the Christian Living magazine)

Aunt Cecilia, I think there might be a parade of family and friends coming by your residence at Landis Homes today. Through God’s help, you have triumphed through the dark valleys and inspired us from the mountaintops of your rich experience. And we thank you!

Happy Birthday!

Daughters Erma and Orpha with Aunt Cecilia in 2012
Daughters Erma and Orpha with Aunt Cecilia at Oregon Dairy in 2012
Aunt Cecilia, grand-daughter Tana, daughter Dorcas, and great=grand-daughter __________
Four generations: Aunt Cecilia, grand-daughter Tana Hey, daughter Dorcas Martzall, and great grand-daughter Rosa Hey

Do you have elderly relatives that have hit the age ninety mark? Have any reached 100? What words of wisdom have they given to you?

Coming next: A Robbery, Sad Friday, and a Clump of Daffodils


44 thoughts on “Aunt Cecilia is 100 Years Old Today!

  1. Good morning, Marian! Happy Birthday to your Aunt Cecilia! She sounds like a wonderful woman. I hope you get to show her your blog tribute to her.
    You and your sister look a lot alike–at least in that photo.
    My mom is 92. She has two first cousins who are also in their 90s, one a bit younger and one older.


    1. You have longevity in your genes too.

      Not to worry: her children all know about this blog post, and will no doubt share it with her after all the hullabaloo of today has died down. Many people know her; she is already quite a celebrity ay Landis Homes. Once again, thanks for so faithfully appearing here – often first in line. I like that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading every detail of this. Happy Birthday to Aunt Cecilia. Congratulations on reaching such a milestone — yet milestone doesn’t sound great, long or grand enough. Bless you for accomplishing so much and sharing so generously. If I counted correctly I think I counted 4 children by Aunt Cecilia, 3 girls and 1 boy. I remember that photo of your Aunt Cecilia and you. It’s such a good one.

    It was on the occasion of of my aunt’s 96th birthday that I started my blog back in September of 2010. She passed away February of 2014, just missing 100 the following September. The force of an influential aunt is the force of a 1,000 flowers, I think. Back then, I just had to give tribute and write a few words so all could read and appreciate the power of her model, guidance and generosity.


  3. Lovely tribute, Georgette. I can feel the love and admiration you still have for your aunt, especially the lines: “The force of an influential aunt is the force of a 1,000 flowers, I think.” Writing about our loved ones here helps hold them in place even after they pass away, as is the case of my mother too. I honestly think I would not be where I am today without the mentoring of my aunts and Mother.

    A photo of her three daughters and one son appears on my home/welcome page today. Thanks for mentioning it.


  4. One more thing about our Aunt Cecelia. I frequently see her riding her motorized scooter inside and outside Landis Homes. She sometimes wears a baseball cap while riding and she’s definitely on high speed with a red safety flag on top of a pole swinging in the breezes.

    Our mother was a member of Aunt Cecelia’s card playing gang and sorely missed the group when Cecelia moved to Landis Homes.

    I’ll see Cecelia tomorrow when all her nieces & nephews will gather for a celebration party.

    Happy Birthday Aunt Cecelia


    1. Thanks for chiming in, sister Jean. Now we have another image of her, baseball cap on head tearing up the streets of Landis Homes on her motorized scooter. Wish I could be there. You’ll have to send me photos from your iPhone!


  5. Happy Birthday, Aunt Cecelia! My great-uncle Will lived to be 101. My aunt Bessie, my dad’s sister, lived to be 102. My dad was 96 and my mother was 99. So, yes, I have longevity in my genes. I’m so glad you got to celebrate your Aunt Cecelia’s 100th birthday, Marian. I’m very happy for you and for your aunt! 🙂


    1. This is a milestone in our family, the first relative we know of to reach age 100. You have great genes, Anita – for longevity and for other good character traits. Thanks for posting here.


  6. Oh how nice, I just love to see this 🙂 My children’s great grandmother lived to be 104. She was out picking blueberries and fell down the hill and broke her hip. Prior to that she was driving 80 miles (round trip) every day to visit her daughter in a nursing home. Remarkable women.


    1. Remarkable is the word. And it’s especially nice when the mind and body keep up with the age as you mention. I didn’t overlook the fact that you said Great Grandma drove 80 miles every DAY to visit her daughter in a nursing home. Wow, oh, wow!

      If you read the thread, Aunt Ceci scoots around on her motorized car and cheers everybody up too!


      1. Grandma Schultz was only four foot nine inches so my former F-I-L had to rig the pedals on her car. From age 96, when she came from Detroit to live with them, until age 102, she was driving from Pine Mountain GA to Columbus, a fairly large city, but she was used to driving in Detroit. After her fall, she went downhill fast and spent her last year in a Hospice. She loved to feed the birds, but was bedridden, so they put a feeder outside her window.


  7. Happy birthday, Aunt Cecilia. Beautiful woman. Beautiful photos (as I expect from you, Marian), news clips, and some great family history. My mother-in-law will be 100 in January. As she fades, she’s become much sweeter than she’s ever been–at least to me. I’m grateful, because I had a hard time feeling compassionate toward her when she shot darts at me for well over 40 years. I hung in there, waiting for these moments of peace and heart connection. Glad I did. (I’ve written a blog about her for next week.)


    1. All of the women in my life mellowed as they got older – I’m sure there is some psychology behind that.

      I look forward to your blog post about mother-in-law Mansfield soon!


  8. Happiest of birthdays to your Aunt Cecilia. She certainly has led a very fulfilling life.

    My Dad was nearly 92 when he passed in 2011. His advice stay active and keep your mind engaged. A family friend, Mr. Benjamin Musser, who I wrote about some time ago, lived to be 105. A delightful man who was my protector and friend. 😉


  9. Best wishes to your Aunt Celia on her birthday. I have one great aunt left, my mother’s mother’s youngest sister, Clara. She is 98. My mother’s and fathers siblings are all in late 70’s and 80’s and early 90’s.

    Aunt Clara still lives on her farm, now run by the younger generations, in a cozy cottage. She used to drive up till about 10 years ago. She still quilts, helps with canning, likes to help in the nursery at church and rock the fussy babies and even the ones that aren’t fussing. She’s about 20 minutes away from the farm she grew up on, about 25min from us.


    1. You help me picture your Aunt Clara very well: In a cozy cottage, quilting, canning, and enjoying life at 98. Just a generation ago our forebears hugged the homeland. My mother never ventured far from the home she was born in and the house she moved into when she married – same for most of my other relatives. Nowadays because of distance, it’s so much harder for extended families to connect.


  10. Congratulations Aunt Cecilia! Thank you for all the pictures and stories.

    I’ve had several centenarians in my family of origin, including my Grandpa Yoder (1881-1980). Grandpa Yoder, J. Harvey Yoder, wrote a book, Neighborhood Profiles and Vistas, in 1971 “dedicated to my descendants: children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

    Here is one of my favorite passages from p. 50: “The sociability of people in ‘horse and buggy’ days is worth noting. It was common to see several teams going along the road side by side, with brisk conversation going on. Even in following each other, by raising their voices a little they could keep talk going. Meeting each other, there were frequent stops to talk business or simply to visit. Ofttimes when the roads were muddy the horses would welcome these stops. In meeting others, it was considered rude if you did not recognize them. In passing homes, we spoke to people even though they were a little distance away.”


    1. A grandfather who wrote a book – what a heritage you are blessed with too, Dolores! The quote from his book made me think that quilting bees and talk between the buggies served as good therapy, talking, making connections – such a healthy way to live. Thanks for the excerpt!


  11. What a blessing that your aunt Cecilia is celebrating this wonderful day. Along with the love of family around her. My grandmothers lived to 98 & 97. They were strong women to the end they did pass for illness just long life.

    Yesterday I took my grandchildren to their dad’s house. His mother reminds me of my grand mothers house when I go there I just want to stay. His mother is 96 and she was was cooking for the day. That is how my grand mother would do with all her grown children and grand children around. Every weekend the house was full you’d think it was a party. My grand mother was never alone. Her house was always full till her death at home. Everyone one was there she had 14 children so imagine by the time she left how many people were there. So when I go to take the kids to their dad I want to stay. I’m offered coffee as soon as I sit down, and we have great conversation, but then I leave so that they can freely enjoy the kids. They love going there too. So sad that my mother doesn’t create this environment. When we try to she go along one weekend then the next few she goes with her friends. Good thing she has a great circle of friends. So when I invite Mom for anything I include her friends nice to see them interact. I always enjoy your post and to read the responses. Thank you. Yes Jean needs to send pictures.


  12. A very happy birthday to your wonderful Aunt Cecilla and I wish her many more to come .
    Where I used to live in the Midlands I was a mobile hairdresser and I had many amazing customers . One in particular was a lady in her 90. She was the most inspiring , youthful , beautiful , positive lady ever . If ever I felt doubt about anything she would build my confidence till I felt like a queen . Sadly she died after a few weeks of us moving . I shall never forget her for all of her support and I miss her dreadfully .


    1. One good thing about the lives of remarkable people: Even after they are gone, they live on our memories and probably continue to influence our actions in a subtle way.


  13. happy, Happy, HAPPY birth to your aunt Cecilia!

    What an incredible life she’s led; one that touches every color and every shade of emotion in the rainbow: peaks, valleys, laughter, and tears — the ingredients of a life well lived.


  14. Inspiring and delightful. – your blog post, and your Aunt Cecilia.
    A friend of mine turned 102 in January. She still makes hot dogs “for the old people” at the seniors’ centre, and is a valued Hospice volunteer. Last year, her driver’s licence was renewed … for another 5 years! Thankfully, she no longer drives at night. I’ve told her, “Dorcie, you’re my role model.” I’ll add your aunt to my list 🙂
    Happy birthday, Aunt Cecilia!


    1. Thank you, Ursula for reading this blog post – and for commenting too. I like when that happens.

      Your friend sounds awesome. It tickles me that the very active elderly think of folks younger than they are as “old people,” which proves that age is a state of mind. My mother at age 96 had her license renewed for 5 years too, but then died unexpectedly last July.

      Again, thank you for visiting here. I hope you will return soon!


  15. I just have to ask a couple of Mennonite-ish questions. Is the Rhoda Keener referenced the same woman who has been head of Mennonite Women USA for a number of years? I went to school with Rhoda. I also think that Hernley Mennonite in Manheim is where my roommate (for one year after I got out of college and before I got married), grew up, Mary Ellen Witmer. Interesting connections with your Aunt Celia and I hope she had a marvelous 100th birthday! I’m sure she’ll enjoy hearing of all these cyberspace greetings!


    1. I can’t answer your question about Rhoda Keener, but I will refer it to Cecilia’s daughter Erma, who may know and reply here. Our Mennonite community is close-knit and rooted in the similar genealogies; no wonder there are so many connections.

      On Saturday her daughter Erma read my blog post to Aunt Ceci, and she smiled as she took it all in. There were two days of celebration for her. I’m guessing today (Monday) is a day of rest for her.


      1. Yes, your hunch was right. Erma says, “Rhoda Keener was head of Mennonite Women USA. Bob and Rhoda Keener now call Cecelia their mother too. It’s a neat relationship that they have had over the years.” Thanks for asking. I never would have known that!


  16. I guess I missed this post as I was travelling back to Canada at the time. Your Aunt Cecilia sounds amazing, just like my great Aunt Barbara (who lived to be 95 years young) As they say, “They just don´t make them like that anymore.” Belated best wishes for this dear woman. You are so fortunate to have her in your life. XO


    1. Oh, thank you for reading and commenting on Mother’s Day. Aunt Ceci, as we call her, is an amazing woman. She and Mother visited, played games together and had a high old time. Like your great Aunt Barbara, a total inspiration.


  17. Thank you for re-posting this as you mourn Aunt Ceci’s death while celebrating her life, and all she has to teach us. Life is struggle, and life is struggle. A difficult lesson, yet she survived her struggles by giving to others. A beautiful woman.

    Liked by 1 person

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