Margaret Moninger's family thought it would be nice if she received 106 cards for her 106th birthday on Feb. 4. So far she's received about 1,100, including one that arrived Saturday at the New Freeport, Greene County, home she shares with her daughter Shirley Zimmerman.
"Is that it?" she asked in mock surprise.
The avalanche of cards began days after a Jan. 28 article about Mrs. Moninger in the Observer-Reporter. The response has shocked the family and the recipient.
"She has tried to read every one," Mrs. Zimmerman said. "She wanted to answer them all" until her family convinced her that thanking people in the newspaper was enough.
She was born on Feb. 4, 1908, in Mount Carmel Ridge, Greene County, the fifth of Henry and Lucinda Isiminger's nine children. She attended West Liberty State Teachers College, graduating in 1928. On Christmas Eve 1929, she married Donley Moninger, and they had four children: Eugene (deceased), Shirley Zimmerman, Sharon Creighton of Findlay, Ohio, and Calvin of Cameron, W.Va.
Mrs. Moninger taught in one-room schools in Mount Carmel, Pigeon Run and Herrods Run but only for two years. Married women were not allowed to be teachers then, but she was allowed to finish the school year. Her husband died in 1995 after 66 years of marriage. She has 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
She also has a Facebook page that shows her with her "baby brother," Paul Isiminger, 92, of Dearborn, Mich., her only surviving sibling. Mrs. Moninger said she would not celebrate her birthday until he comes to visit in July, when he turns 93.
One night recently, Mrs. Moninger couldn't sleep. So her daughter sat on her bed to talk.
"Was I a good mother-in-law?" she asked.
"I think so," answered Mrs. Zimmerman, whose husband, Paul, died 25 years ago.
"Why is it that the good ones die young?" her mother said, then paused and added:
"But what does that say about me?"
Nun worked as nurse for 60 years
As a nurse anesthetist at Braddock General Hospital, Sister Dolores Werling tried to comfort patients as they fell asleep.
"I would always whisper a short prayer to help reassure the patient that all will be well.
" 'God go with you,' I would say."
Sister Dolores, who was known as Sister Mary Ferdinand when she worked at the hospital, turned 100 years old Feb. 3.
She was born in 1914 in the West End to Mary Elizabeth (Beck) and Joseph Ferdinand Werling. She attended St. Martin's School and Providence Heights and said Sister Imelda, her 11th-grade teacher, encouraged her to join the order on Sept. 29, 1929. She received her nursing degree in 1935 from St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Ill., and her anesthesia training from the same school in 1947.
Sister Dolores worked in Braddock off and on for more than 20 years and also served at Ohio Valley Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital in Warren, Ohio, and in the provincial house infirmary, retiring in 1995 after 60 years as a nurse. She celebrated 80 years as a nun in 2010.
Nun taught in Korea, Haiti
For most people, teaching and working as a principal in Catholic high schools and as a dean at La Roche College would be a full career.
For Sister M. Victorine Verosky, it was just the first half. She spent 21 years teaching English at Sogang Jesuit University and was regional superior for the Sisters of Divine Providence in Seoul, Korea. Then she became academic dean at the American University of Les Cayes, Haiti, and finally worked into the late 1990s as a staff member at Jeremiah's Field, a shelter for homeless women in New York. In 1998, she won La Roche's Woman of Providence award.
Madeline Verosky was born on July 22, 1913, in Braddock to Agnes (D'Zmura) and Michael Verosky. She graduated from Divine Providence Academy in 1929 and entered the Sisters of Divine Providence on Sept. 29, 1929. She earned a bachelor's degree in education and a master's in English from Duquesne University, was certified to teach theology at Providence College in Rhode Island and earned a doctorate from Fordham University in New York.
For 30 years, she taught at high schools in Pittsburgh, Altoona-Johnstown and Columbus, Ohio, then was principal of Divine Providence Academy in 1962. She was academic dean at La Roche for three years, then left for Korea in 1966 and stayed until 1987. At age 75, she took on a new assignment in Haiti. In letters to her fellow sisters back in Pittsburgh, she lamented the extreme poverty and hopelessness. In one dated Jan. 21, 1989, she talks excitedly about construction of the university:
"Students carry a strenuous schedule. Some begin the day at 6 a.m. and go to 9 p.m. Once when we were discussing valid excuses for absence a student asked: 'Sister, what about hunger?' "
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.