Anna & Company Gang of four are the top seniors at United Zion “The secret to living to be 104 is eating. I love to eat!” – Anna Cobough

By on September 14, 2011

By: LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer



Anna Cobough
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When Anna Cobaugh turned 104 on Aug. 24, she was in good company.

Not only did United Zion Retirement Community — where she lives — throw her a big birthday bash with cake, ice cream and balloons, but she was joined by other centenarians.

"The secret to living to be 104 is eating," said Cobaugh. "I love to eat!"

The spry and lighthearted lady reported that she looks forward to meal time and there isn’t anything at United Zion that she doesn’t like. However, she did admit to having a fondness for sweets, especially her birthday cake, hand-lettered to reflect her status as the oldest resident at the local retirement home.

"Seriously, I’m just lucky," confided Cobaugh. "I didn’t do anything special."

Some may disagree. Even though Cobaugh is confined to a wheelchair, she has a lively spirit and lots of energy. And she has a bit of a reputation as a daredevil.

Back when she turned 101, she celebrated with a Harley Davidson motorcycle ride with her great-nephew.

She’s also known for zipping down the halls at "breakneck" speeds in her wheelchair. When Cobaugh is coming, people get out of the way.

According to United Zion activity director Jessica Kistler, Cobaugh’s wheelchair racing has the staff joking that she’ll get a speeding ticket if she doesn’t slow down. That’s not the only exercise the feisty 104-year-old enjoys. She still exercises every day, gets out for some fresh air and keeps busy with noodle hockey, balloon volleyball and anything else that keeps her busy.

"She’s loving and a joy to be around," Kistler said. "Everyone loves seeing her motor through the halls and she always knows when you can use a hug."

Cobaugh celebrated her 104th birthday with a family party that included staff and other residents. When asked if she was going to ride on a motorcycle for the big day she said, "No, I did that already!"

Cobaugh was born Aug. 24, 1907 in Rapho Township. She spent her youth on a farm, the daughter of Frank and Katie Haldeman. She had a sister and four brothers, and attended a one-room school house. She lived most of her life in the Manheim area and worked the looms in a Lancaster silk mill and spent 21 years at Raybestos in Manheim.

During World War II, she worked as a riveter for Armstrong Cork, personifying "Rosy the Riveter," when women took over jobs traditionally held by men while men served in the military.

Cobough learned to drive a car when she was young, something few women did back then. Later, she actually did own her own car, a 1963 Ford Falcon Sport that had more than 100,000 miles on it when she finally turned in her keys at age 99. She used to drive all the way to Florida to visit relatives, and liked to move at a brisk pace.

She was also known as a talented baker, lauded by friends and family for making the best cherry pie ever — with a light, flaky crust and fruit filling.

She grew all her own vegetables in a kitchen garden — tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots and more.

Life slowed down a bit for Cobaugh when she had a stroke a few years ago. She has recovered well, although her speech and walking has been affected. But she refuses to let that hold her back. She still has a zest for living and shares that with other United Zion residents who have made it to the century mark and beyond.

Dorothy Mayhew turned 102 on June 14. She was born in 1909. She enjoys taking walks and relaxing with friends at the retirement home. She is originally from Hamilton, N.Y. and married to Stanley Burrows. She has two daughters, six grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.

"I love music," said the regal lady, who still dresses in nice outfits and does her hair and makeup. To her, every day is a blessing. She finds joy in simple things and admits that she has no secret to living a long life.

"I just live, that’s all," she said.

Elverta Dotterer, 101, was born on April 30, 1910. She grew up in East Petersburg and was married to Phillip Dotterer for 40 years, before he passed away. They had one son. A member of White Oak Church of the Brethren, Dotterer has relied on her church to give her happiness over the years. She enjoys quilting and gardening, and she has a special fondness for pretty violets, which often bloom around the time of her birthday.

What’s kept her going to 100 and beyond?

"I like reading and eating," she said, feeding her mind and her stomach.

Staff and fellow residents know her for her quiet sense of humor. Sometimes it’s hard to know that she is joking. When asked if she has a sense of humor, Dotterer said, "Maybe I do," just a bit slyly.

The youngster of the group of over-100s is Kathryn Pfautz, born Jan. 31, 1911 in Lebanon County. She and her late husband Rufus had one son, Gerald, who married Rachel. As a result, Pfautz has six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She enjoys when her family comes to visit.

Pfautz knows exactly why she has been so blessed to live to 100, as she points upward.

"The good Lord above," she said. "That’s why."

Pfautz enjoys gardening and looks forward to Bingo games at United Zion. She has been known to win fairly often, with a little "in" from above perhaps? She is also skilled at speaking Pennsylvania German and when asked, "Kannscht du Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch schwetzer?," she says, "Jah." And she loves it when someone wishes her "Hallich Gebottsdaag." More HAPPY BIRTHDAY, page A15