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. In 2021, we also lost Gerry McElwee and in 2024 we lost Romaine Weidner at the age of 100!  

 To learn about the others, please read the following interviews done by Sherry Warrick.

Donald Thomas – January 23, 1934

Donald Thomas is one of the newest members of the Mt. Zion Nonagenarian Club.

Rosemary Sweitzer – April 4, 1932

Kathryn Bear – Feb. 19, 1931

Kathryn has participated as a member of Mt. Zion’s Council and attends weekly Bible Study also. While not ready to run a marathon, she is still  quite an active member of our church.

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

Sadly Romaine passed away at the age of 100 years, on Jan. 2, 2024.

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!