Century Club: Wayne Billick proves grandparents wrong; Mary Moritz is a living piece of Mon Valley history
Wayne Billick was born on Feb. 16, 1913, in a farmhouse that is now the site of Elizabeth Forward High School.
Mary Moritz grew up in Homestead, and has also lived in McKeesport, Glassport and Dravosburg.
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When he was little, Wayne Billick overheard his grandparents tell his parents: "That boy will never live to be very old. He's too nice."
Well, he's turning 100 on Saturday, so elders don't always know best.
"I was the smallest, shortest and skinniest of the five brothers," he tells his family. "So I'm sure nobody would have picked me to live the longest."
He was born on Feb. 16, 1913, to Mary Alberta Guffey and Wilmer Stanley Billick in a farmhouse that is now the site of Elizabeth Forward High School. He worked on the 70-acre family chicken farm on what is now called Billick's Lane. As a teenager, he won first place in the state and sixth in country for his senior project: raising 1,100 chicks and 350 hens.
Mr. Billick skipped three grades and was valedictorian of his 48-member senior class at Elizabeth High School, class of 1929. At age 16, he enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh to major in physics and mathematics, but the Great Depression forced him to quit and go back to work on the family farm.
At age 26, he married Ruth Lenora Gedekoh, and they had four children: Dean of Jacksonville, Fla.; Mary Anne Sansom of Slippery Rock; Janice Kaye McGhee of Beaver Falls; and David of Tarentum. Mr. Billick went to work at Eastern States Farmers Exchange in Imperial and retired 39 years later as an area manager for Agway. He now lives in Belle Vernon.
He joined Round Hill Presbyterian Church at age 14 and has been active ever since, serving as an elder, member of the session, president of the missionary society and member of the cemetery board. He has also taught Sunday school and worked in the food pantry. His wife passed away in 2001. He has nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
She's a Mon Valley girl
Mary Moritz, who turns 100 on Sunday, is a living piece of Mon Valley history. Although she grew up in Homestead, she has also lived in McKeesport, Glassport and Dravosburg.
She was born on Feb. 17, 1913, in Newark, Del., the third child of Michael and Catherine Seiss Gessner. After moving here with her family, she attended St. Mary School in Homestead and Homestead High School. She had to quit in her senior year to help support her family. She worked at the Heinz plant at age 16.
On Aug. 29, 1932, she married Edward C. Moritz and had two daughters: Rosemary Clayton of Waynesburg and Arline Chiz of Bethel Park, with whom she now lives. Mrs. Moritz worked in a laundry, did house cleaning and was a stainless steel inspector at the Woods mill in McKeesport.
She played in a 500 card club with friends she had grown up with and her hobbies included hat-making, sewing, knitting, crocheting and bowling. She was a volunteer for the Washington Senior Center and helped pack meals for shut-ins.
Mr. Moritz passed away in 1983 after more than 50 years of marriage. Mrs. Moritz has 11 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren. She plans to go on a cruise with her daughters to celebrate her birthday.
First Published February 12, 2013 12:00 am