Century Club

These centenarians have fed many locals

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Neva Lampman's door is always open for neighbors or friends to stop in for a cup of coffee and one of her famous walnut cookies. Recent guests know to wish her a happy 100th birthday.

She was born on Jan. 21, 1914, in Niagara Falls, Canada, the eldest of Christian and Cora Schultz's three children. When she was 10, her father moved his family across the bridge to Niagara Falls, N.Y.

She was living there when she married Neil Lampman in 1937. They had one daughter, Marilyn Gearhart Townsend of Collier. Mrs. Lampman's husband died in 1977 after 40 years of marriage, and she moved to Carnegie. She is proud of the fact that she does her own cleaning, laundry, cooking and baking.

In addition to walnut cookies, she loves to bake pies, especially cherry, a favorite of her only grandson, Neil Gearhart. She enjoys sharing her recipes -- and pies -- with her neighbors. She is a member of Crafton United Methodist Church and has peeled many a potato for church dinners.

A birthday dinner was held at her daughter's home with guests from Niagara Falls.

This 100-year-old's no ham

You might not recognize Rose Thomas' face, but you might remember the 100-year-old's huge ham sandwiches.

She and her husband, William A. Thomas, operated the Thomas Cafe on the North Side from the late 1940s until it closed in the '70s to make way for I-279 construction. Mayors, Steelers and celebrities such as newscaster Bill Burns stopped by for inexpensive sandwiches piled high with hand-carved ham baked each day.

Mrs. Thomas was born on Jan. 27, 1914, in Neumarkt An Der Raab in Burgenland, Austria. In 1934, at the age of 20, she came to America with her father and settled in Pittsburgh.

In July 1941, she married William A. Thomas, and they had two sons, James of Cleveland, with whom she lives, and William, now deceased.

The couple worked together at the cafe, which was called Zyfang & Thomas when it opened in the 1930s. Mr. Thomas' father, Roman, took full ownership in the 1940s.

At the corner of Madison Avenue and Tripoli Street, the eatery was famous for ham sandwiches so large that customers would take them home to divide into two or even three smaller sandwiches. Lou Michaels, Steelers kicker and defensive end, was one of the first football players to discover the treat in the 1960s, and his teammates soon followed. Mr. Thomas died in January 1985 after 43 years of marriage.

Mrs. Thomas was a longtime member of St. Mary Catholic Church and active in the Ladies of Charity. She was also a regular at the Brighton Heights Senior Center. She has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who came from as far away as California for her birthday celebrations.

Mrs. Thomas was honored at a family reunion in Pittsburgh, a gathering of former neighbors and friends and relatives in Lyndhurst, Ohio, and a special luncheon at a nearby senior center. More than 100 people wished her a happy 100th birthday.

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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