Linden Hall grad celebrates 100th birthday

By on October 10, 2018

 

Jeanette Hershey Martin, a 1938 graduate of Linden Hall Junior College, celebrated her 100th birthday Oct. 6. She’s holding her diploma and graduation tassel. (Photo by Rochelle Shenk)

 

Family and friends gathered Saturday, Oct. 6 to mark a milestone in Jeanette (Dourte) Hershey Martin’s life. The Manheim native and 1938 graduate of Linden Hall Junior College celebrated her 100th birthday at Pleasant View Retirement Community.

Among those celebrating the special day with her were her children: Harriet (Hershey) Brownsberger, John Hershey, and Dorothy “Dottie” (Hershey) White. Another child, Peggy Hershey, is deceased. Hershey Martin has lived at Pleasant View Retirement Community since July 2001, so it’s not only become home, but it’s less than a half mile from her childhood home on Brandt Street and Penryn Road.

After graduating from Manheim High School (now Manheim Central High School), Jeanette Dourte had her sights set on a career as a nurse.

“Several girls in my class were going into nursing and I thought I would, too,” she said.

But she received the offer of a two-year scholarship for Linden Hall’s now defunct junior college.

“My dad thought I should turn it down. He was a farmer and didn’t believe in higher education for women,” Hershey Martin recalled. “My mom thought I should accept the scholarship and persuaded my dad to let me do it.”

Jeanette Dourte’s senior portrait from Linden Hall Junior College. (Image provided by Linden Hall)

According to a history of Linden Hall, the junior college was developed in 1934 by headmaster Dr. W. F. Stengel. It became known for its secretarial program. Linden Hall Junior College was discontinued in 1961 to focus on the academy.

Linden Hall’s current Head of School, Michael Waylett, alumnae coordinator Brandi Rice and executive assistant Susan Hall visited Hershey Martin just prior to her birthday to offer congratulations.

“We were delighted to have an opportunity to meet with Ms. Hershey Martin as she prepared to celebrate her 100th birthday,” Waylett said. “She’s certainly a Linden Hall girl at heart, and it was fascinating listening to her recall her experiences growing up during the Depression and being offered an opportunity to attend our Junior College on a full scholarship.”

Hershey Martin’s 80th Linden Hall class reunion was held in April; she is the only surviving member of the class.

Hershey Martin took the bus from Manheim to Linden Hall. Her grandparents lived on Liberty Street in Lititz, so she would sometimes stay there and walk to her classes at Linden Hall.

Members of the Linden Hall staff celebrated the 100th birthday of alum Jeanette Hershey Martin on Oct. 6. Pictured with Hershey Martin (front) are (back, left to right) Brandi Rice, Linden Hall’s alumnae coordinator, Susan Hall, the school’s executive assistant, and Head of School Michael Waylett. (Photo by Rochelle Shenk)

“I really enjoyed my time there,” she said.

Between her first and second year at Linden Hall, she began working as a nanny for a family in Mount Gretna. She became friends with a daughter of a neighboring family. She continued working as a nanny for the family after she graduated from Linden Hall. She had applied for a job at Armstrong (Armstrong World Industries) in Lancaster. While she was working in Mount Gretna, she was asked to interview at Armstrong.

“I didn’t have a car, and the bus didn’t run between Mount Gretna and Manheim, so I needed a ride to Manheim to get the bus. My friend had a cousin from Manheim who had a car and asked him to drive me to Manheim. That’s how I met my first husband, Ben Hershey; he was the one who drove me to Manheim,” Hershey Martin explained.

She landed a position in Armstrong’s billing department handling the international billing and began dating Hershey. He was a millwright for a Manheim company, who enjoyed trolleys. Jeanette and Ben married in April 1940, and as was the custom at the time, she left Armstrong to become a homemaker.

“When I left Armstrong, they had to hire two people to replace me,” Hershey Martin proudly stated.

“Linden Hall totally changed my mom’s life. She shifted career paths, and through that met my dad,” Brownsberger said.

And interestingly, Mount Gretna has had a role in several generations of the family’s life. Brownsberger explained that her paternal grandparents, who were from Manheim, met and married in Mount Gretna, her parents (Jeanette and Ben) met in Mount Gretna and were married in Manheim, while she met her future husband in Manheim and was married in Mount Gretna.

Manheim residents may be familiar with both Jeanette and Ben through their involvement with the Manheim Historical Society and Ben’s antique cars. Brownsberger said when he was 16 years old, her dad had a conductor’s uniform from Conestoga Traction Company, the company that provided trolley service throughout the county. His love of trolleys put him in good stead. In the early 1990s Hershey was one of a group of Manheim Historical Society members who restored the organization’s Birney Trolley #236, which had been operated by Conestoga Traction Company.

Jeanette Dourte, and the rest of the Linden Hall Junior College Class of 1938. Her 80th class reunion was held in April; she is the only surviving member. (Image provided by Linden Hall)

The historical society still owns the trolley; it’s housed at the restored Manheim railroad station complex, 210 S. Charlotte St. Visitors may take a ride on the trolley, weather permitting, during the historical society’s summer open house events.

Ben Hershey died in 2000. After moving to Pleasant View, Hershey Martin met then married her second husband, Donald Martin. Besides living at Pleasant View, they had a lot in common — they were married to their late spouses in 1940; were married for over 50 years (he for 58 and she for 60½ years) and enjoyed Christian and gospel music. At the time of their marriage they were both in their 80s — she was 83, and he was 85. They were hoping to celebrate their 100th birthdays with one another, but sadly that was not to be; Donald Martin died in November 2012.

When asked the secret to her long life, Hershey Martin said, “I am grateful to God for every day and I live it to the fullest.”

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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