Centenarians had brushes with the famous


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Frank A. Koren, a friendly mortician who helped Pittsburgh bid farewell to ballplayer Harold "Pie" Traynor, Mayor Richard Caliguiri, U.S. Sen. H. John Heinz III and Helen Clay Frick, turned 100 years old on Friday.

He was born on Jan. 3, 1914, in Milwaukee, the youngest of Louise and Frank M. Koren's four children. Mr. Koren, who is of Slovenian descent, married the former Betty Altenbach in September 1941 in Sheboygan, Wis. They had six children: Michael of Braddock Hills, Philip of Midlothian, Va., Louise Casey of Naperville, Ill., Joe of Churchill, with whom he lives, John of Euless, Texas, and Charlie of Ebensburg, Cambria County.

Mr. Koren began his career as a funeral director at the Robert H. Kroos Funeral Home in Wisconsin. In 1957, he met Howard Samson at a convention in Chicago and agreed to move to Pittsburgh to work at the H. Samson Funeral Home on Neville Street in Oakland. He worked there for more than 30 years and became supervisor. He and his wife enjoyed dancing at social clubs including the Wilkinsburg Elks, Bloomfield Liedertafel and the Acme Club in Cheswick. Mr. Koren, a longtime member of St. John Fisher in Churchill, also belonged to the Serra Club, Knights of Columbus, National Funeral Directors Society and Oakland Rotary Club, where he was a Paul Harris Fellow. Mrs. Koren died in 2006 after 65 years of marriage.

On Saturday, St. Vincent Archabbot Douglas Nowicki celebrated a special Mass for Mr. Koren at St. John Fisher. Among the 85 family and friends at a birthday party afterward in the church hall were Mr. Koren's 16 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

'Telegraph for Dick Powell!'

Chauncey J. Mellor II, who turned 100 on Sunday, has vivid memories of his days as a Western Union telegraph boy in the 1930s, receiving and delivering messages from actor Dick Powell. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was campaigning for president at Forbes Field, he was one of several telegraph boys standing in front of the podium.

He was born on Jan. 5, 1914, to William Waldorf Mellor and Cerus Lee Mellor. One of five children, he attended Oak School on Ballenger Street and Overbrook School on Saw Mill Run Boulevard. As a teenager, he lived for a time in El Paso, Texas, delivering milk to Safeway stores during the day and to families at night.

Returning to Pittsburgh in the early 1930s, he worked for Western Union and often saw Mr. Powell, a Pittsburgh native and generous tipper who frequently sent messages to his family in Arkansas and Texas about his shows at the Stanley Theatre. Mr. Mellor was once trapped in an elevator for a brief time with actress Jean Harlow, whom he said was not as glamorous in real life as on the silver screen.

In the late 1930s, after a ballgame in Brookline, he offered Margaret Catherine Hanna a ride home during a rainstorm. They married and had two sons: Jeff of Knoxville, Tenn., and Dennis of Lafayette, Ind. Mrs. Mellor died in 2011 after more than 70 years of marriage.

During World War II, he served in the Marine Corps as an airplane mechanic stationed in Cherry Point, N.C., and at the Naval Air Station in Memphis, rising to the rank of sergeant. In the early 1940s, Mr. Mellor began working at Pittsburgh Forgings in Coraopolis and retired in the late 1970s after nearly 40 years.

He celebrated with family and friends Sunday at the Baptist Homes Nursing Center in Mt. Lebanon, where he now lives.


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. Email: kkirkland@post-gazette.com.

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