Our Nonagenarians

What is a Nonagenarian?

Answer: A person who is between the ages of 90 and 99. As of early 2019, the Lord had blessed the Mount Zion Family with seven individuals who were a member of this elite group, but sadly in 2019 and 2020 we lost three of them, Elzin Weidner, Jake Sheely and Helen Starner. To learn about the others, please read the following interviews done by Sherry Warrick.

Geraldine McElwee - Feb 6, 1928

Geraldine McElwee - Feb 6, 1928

Geraldine’s (Gerry) parents originally attended The Church of God, and as a young adult Gerry attended Mt. Holly Lutheran. She has been a member of Mt. Zion since the 1960s when Lena and 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

Dorothy Rice - Aug. 20, 1927

Dot has been a lifelong member of MZ and is at least a second 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.

Dorothy  Sheely (Nov. 13 1926)

Dorothy Sheely (Nov. 13 1926)

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.  Her husband 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.  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.

Dorothy has three children, Jacob III, David and Laura. She was a regular member of the Mt. Zion Choir and has finally decided to move to the Sara Todd Home in Carlisle.

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”.


Romaine Weidner - Nov. 21 1923

Romaine Weidner - Nov. 21 1923

 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!