Our Nonagenarians


What is a Nonagenarian?

Answer:  A person who is between the ages of 90 and 99.  The Lord has blessed the Mount Zion Family with six individuals who are a member of this elite group. To learn about them, please read the following interviews done by Sherry Warrick.


Helen Starner

Helen is the newest and youngest member of our Nonagenarians. She  celebrated her HelenSmilestone into this elite group on April 15, 2019. Although, her parents attended Mt. Tabor EUB church when she was young, Helen transitioned her membership to MZ in the 50’s after she married her husband Delmar.  She helped with Bible School and taught the Kindergarten class when her children were small, was active singing in the choir and with Ladies Aid. She has served on Council.

Helen has been a faithful member of our congregation and seldom if ever misses any events. She even came out to Game Night on Feb 23 and taught a lot of us a brand new game. She is an inspiration to everyone who meets her and is quick to get her two cents in when needed during Bible study discussions

Helen words of wisdom are, “When you have any problems, call on the Holy Spirit for help, read your Bible and pray".  Prayer and reading her Bible has been a key factor to helping Helen maintain her faith.

Geraldine McElwee - Feb 6, 1928

Geraldine’s (Gerry) parents originally attended The Church of God, and as a young adult GerryMGerry attended Mt. Holly Lutheran. She has been a member of Mt. Zion since the 1960s when Lena and husband Chester Kuntz invited her to visit Mt. Zion. She has always been a very active member of our congregation, such as serving on Council and as a Sunday School teacher. She also attended Conventions and Synod Assembly representing Mt. Zion and she was the leader of Luther League for 16 years. For a number of years, she published a newsletter for Mt. Zion and was a Deaconess in the 70’s. She is a member of Daughters of Dorcas and Ladies Aid.

 Gerry cut back on a lot of activities when she moved out of the Gardners area, to a Doubling Gap apartment, but at 92, she is still actively involved at Mt Zion. She enjoys playing Chinese checkers and other board games at Doubling Gap along with running their Greeting Card program. Gerry likes Mt. Zion and the people here. She says she has no words of wisdom to give because kids today have so much on them. She wishes they could be back in her era when things were simpler

Dorothy Rice - Aug. 20, 1927

Dot will be 92 in August. She has been a lifelong member of MZ and is at least a DotRicesecond generation member. She and husband Don were very active members of our congregation in the 60’s through the 90’s and attended church services regularly every Sunday until Don became sick and passed on.

They had been "Aid Association for Lutheran" members (now Thrivent) and were inspirational in getting a local Chapter set up here at Mt. Zion. Dot participated in a lot of dinners, and was involved with the ladies programs. Although, Dot is physically healthy she has some trouble remembering things now. Daughter, Martha stays with her and her grandchildren visit often.

Elzin Weidner - Sept. 19 1925 - July 9 2019


Although Elzin has not attended services in a while, when others have asked him to visit ElzinW2their churches, Elzin says, “I am a lifelong member of Mt. Zion and always will be, so you are wasting your time asking”.


Elzin believes that if you are taught to believe and have faith as a child, it never leaves you; it remains strong because it is all you’ve ever known.

In his younger days, Elzin served on Council, Parsonage Committee, Pastor Selection Committee, MZ electrician and “anything else the members could come up with that he could do.” He has always been an avid hunter and fisherman, and has made many trips to Canada fishing.


He is also a gardener, but says he is cutting back this year to just 6 tomato plants, 4 peppers, and 4 cucumbers. When asked what our congregation can do for our senior members, he said, “Keep us informed, even though we cannot attend.” And in keeping with his sense of humor, he also said “You can pay my taxes for me.” As for advice for the future generations, Elzin says the church family needs to “keep doing things kids like to do”. His advice to the kids: Keep attending Sunday school and Worship every Sunday and most of all, “keep your faith” in everything you do.

Update: Sadly Elzin passed away on July 9, 2019.

Dorothy  (Nov. 13 1926) and Jacob Sheely (Dec. 5 1925 )


Dorothy is the third generation of her family to attend Mt Zion, she was baptized as an infant here along with sister Isabelle Grenoble and their six other siblings. Her mother, Esta Didenhaver Starner was a regular teacher and did many readings and programs with the church. Jake was a member of St. John’s Lutheran in Shirmanstown, and after they were married on Nov 24, 1946, they settled in Shirmanstown for 40 years, before returning to Gardners in the mid 80’s.

They have three Sheelyschildren, Jacob III, David and Laura. Both were regular members of the Choir, and Jake served on Council. Both still have no problem remember anything, but Jake has had troubles with his legs and getting around. Jake & sister-in-law Isabelle moved into Thornwald nursing home the other year, and after some family insistence, Dorothy has finally decided to move to the Sara Todd area to be closer to them.

Dorothy is sad to see the decline in membership at Mt. Zion. She says that people like her brother Donald still support the church even into death, but so few attend any more. She attributes their deep-rooted faith to being Lutherans. Dorothy feels the Lutheran religion had many freedoms compared to other religions. Her Words of Wisdom are "Do what is right no matter what, there is right and wrong, always do what is right".


 UPDATE: Sadly Jake passed away on Sept. 19, 2019 at the age of 93.   Dorothy and Jake would have celebrated their 73rd Anniversary in November, 2019.

Romaine Weidner - Nov. 21 1923

RomaineWAt 96, Romaine is the eldest of our nonagenarians and currently resides at Sarah Todd Home in Carlisle. Originally, her family attended Chestnut Grove and Latimore Lutheran Churches and York Springs Methodist Church. She married her husband Eugene at the Carlisle Lutheran Church. A neighbor invited her to visit Mt. Zion in 1945. Consequently, she became a member of Mt. Zion and has been an active member for 74 yrs.


Romaine served on Ladies Aid and helped with Sunday school and VBS. She remembers all the beautiful music and organ playing at Mt. Zion. She notes that the one thing that is different from Methodist to Lutheran Churches is that Lutherans don’t talk about Repenting. Romaine said reading her Bible and studying about Repentance helps to keep her faith strong. She enjoys receiving meals from the church when we have dinners, and still has the flower she received from Mother’s Day last year. It is blooming again - what a green thumb!.  



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August 14, 2020

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