NEW BETHLEHEM – Grace Wilkinson, a former longtime resident of Distant and New Bethlehem, will celebrate her 100th birthday on September 23.
She was born in 1917 on a farm in Bucks County in eastern Pennsylvania. Her father was a butcher who had his own market, and her mother was a very busy lady who baked every day and also took in boarders.
Graduating from Lansdale High School in 1935, she married Clarence “Shorty” Wilkinson in 1941.
The whole family (which then included daughters Sallie and Linda) moved to western Pennsylvania when Mr. Wilkinson was made superintendent of the Southwest Game Farm in Distant. Grace worked in the Redbank Valley High School cafeteria for over 20 years.
The Wilkinsons were faithful members of the First Baptist Church in New Bethlehem where they were in charge of the youth group for many years, helping to shape the lives of those who came under their influence. Other activites Grace was involved in at church were the Women’s Society and organizing funeral dinners. Even with her interests of gardening and needlework, Grace always found time on Saturday to cook her homemade spaghetti and meatballs that simmered all day while she did her weekly housework. Many friends and family looked forward to that tradition.
Following the death of her husband, Grace moved to Penn Street in New Bethlehem, where she became involved with the Civic Club and Walkie-Talkie Red Hats. She always remained active walking with “the ladies,” and then having coffee afterwards, well into her 90’s.
She remained at her residence on Penn Street for over 40 years until deciding to divide her time between the homes of her daughter Sallie and husband Gordon in Oil City, and her daughter Linda in Erie. Also in the tight family circle is a granddaughter, Dr. Michelle Pierce of Salem, Mass.
Acquaintances of Grace’s are welcome to stop and say hello to her at the The Brick House Bed and Breakfast in Oak Ridge from 2 to 4 pm. on Saturday, Sept. 23.