Mary Rupprecht is happiest when she's praying or watching a Pirates game. During some games, she does both. On Wednesday, she'll celebrate her 100th birthday and the Pirates will play the Arizona Diamondbacks -- prayers are welcome.
She was born on April 10, 1913, in Green Tree, the fifth of Harry and Anastasia Sirko's seven children. Her parents had emigrated from the Ukraine 12 years before and had a farm where the children worked when they weren't in school.
Her first job was in the tea room at Horne's department store. In September 1933, she married August Rupprecht and they lived in Rennerdale, then Carnegie. They had two children: Jack of Spring Hill, Fla., and Carol Rodgers of Bethel Park, with whom she lives. After her husband died in 1977, Mrs. Rupprecht took a job at GNC and worked there for a few years.
She was famous for her cooking, especially pies and pierogies. She belonged to several card clubs and loved to play 500. She was very active with the Christian Mothers of St. Joseph Church in Carnegie, where she attended daily Mass for years.
Among the current Pirates, her favorite players are Andrew McCutchen and Michael McHenry. She has four grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Greene's oldest WWII veteran
During World War II, Paul Crayne of Waynesburg served with the Army in India and Vietnam and helped build the Burma Road. When he returned to his house overlooking Ten Mile Creek, he didn't have time to join veterans groups. But he and his wife, Wanita, started one simple tradition that they maintained every day (except the rainy ones) for 65 years: raising the American flag.
On March 12, Mr. Crayne celebrated his 100th birthday, and on March 17, fellow veterans, family, friends and government officials honored him as both the newest and oldest member of American Legion Post 330. He is also Greene County's oldest World War II veteran.
Mr. and Mrs. Crayne, 96, were married on Dec. 23, 1937, and celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary last year. They have two children, Connie Rush and Larry Paul, both of Waynesburg.
Mr. Crayne was 30 years old when he was drafted in 1943. Mrs. Crayne wrote letters to her husband every day and took in washing to make ends meet. While he worked on the Burma Road, he almost died of malaria. When he returned home, he went back to the job he left behind, working the afternoon shift as a machinist and lathe operator at Penn Manufacturing in Washington. He retired after 36 years and spent his free time tinkering in his shed and working in his garden, sharing the produce with family and friends.
Last November, just in time for Veterans Day, the Disabled American Veterans replaced the last American flag that Wanita had been stitching back together. Today, it proudly flies at their home.
If you or a friend or a relative recently turned 100 or will soon do so, the Post-Gazette would like to hear from you. To be included in Century Club, send the honoree's biographical information and your phone number to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Century Club, Attn: Kevin Kirkland, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Fax: 412-491-8452. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.