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Epworth Manor resident celebrates 103 years

A bit of a firecracker herself, 103-year-old Leah Homer of Epworth Manor, takes great pleasure in celebrating the Fourth of July every year. Leah takes great pride in being born on the 4th as she celebrates not only her own birthday but that of our nation. It is certainly a day of festivities, grand parades, fire works and lots of things to do.
The daughter of William E. and Alice (Emigh) Conser of Sandy Ridge, Leah was the youngest of 12 children. The eldest, a boy, died shortly after birth and the next 11 were all girls.
\”The best recipe for growing old is just plain hard work,\” Leah commented a number of times as we chatted.
And for her it began at a very early age.
\”I was only four when my mother died, so I was then raised by my sisters and my father who was the Station Agent at Sandy Ridge. We were taught to be honest, work hard and stick together. If we didn\’t go to Sunday School and church we didn\’t get to go out. Being a family came first.\”
Hard work is the best medicine there is, she recalled as she spoke of standing on a soapbox to wash the dishes when she was seven. As a very young little lady, Leah soon learned how to cook and clean the house, which was to become a big asset to her as she later cleaned and had total control of the home and properties of Richard and Florence Beaston. A job she held for more than 40 years.
The Beaston home on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 11th Street had 14 rooms and 37 windows that all had to be cleaned. Along with doing all the cooking and cleaning of the home, Leah also looked after a farm house and five cottages on Janesville Pike owned by the Beastons. When it came time to add a swimming pool at the cottages in the woods, Leah told of how Mr. Beaston, who was a wood buyer, took some men to the site to dig out the pool.
\”I think the crew changed every day as the workers would find shovels full of snakes as they worked in the dirt.\”
After the cottages were finished, Leah inherited duties of keeping everything there cleaned and tidy too. She bought all the groceries, did the cooking and had the total run of everything with the Beastons never interfering with anything she did.
\”She trusted me and I had the total run of everything. I even had to do all the silverware every two weeks and keep the many antiques polished and cleaned. I was never really told what to do, I just knew what Mrs. Beaston wanted done and just went ahead and did it.\”
Many of you may also remember the “Pig Hole” in town. Another duty Leah remembers is keeping the “Pig Hole” and the steps to it cleaned. It was something she voluntarily did for years.
Another hobby she had was making rugs.
A couple of other interesting tidbits about Leah is that she said she rarely took a nap.
Her daughter, Priscilla, said that her mother always dressed like she was ready to go out.
Leah is a truly delightful lady, enjoying fairly good health. With a sharp, clear mind she recalls many interesting things from her past. But most of all, it is that hard work and keeping yourself busy that pays dividends in the end.
\”That\’s my advise,\” she concluded.
For her 103rd birthday, Leah celebrated a few days early with the \”bingo\” crowd in the Activity Room at Epworth Manor with a party in her honor. Then, the day before her birthday she chose to enjoy dinner surrounded by her family at Burley\’s Restaurant.
Mrs. Homer is survived by a daughter Priscilla (Royer) Rhodes of 112 W. 11th Street, Tyrone and two stepdaughters, Betty (Merritts) Huffman and husband Merle of Mesa, Arizona and Martha (Merritts) Williamson of Eugene, Ore.
Leah\’s grandchildren include Deborah (Rhodes) McClain and her husband, Michael of Duncansville; Edward and wife Susan of Los Angeles; the Rev. Thomas Rhodes and his wife Dana of Falson, California; Donna Radabenko and husband Sam of Arizona; Suzi Breuer and husband Vern of Gilbert, Arizona and Martha Williamson of Brandon, Oregon. A grandson, Chris Rhodes of Tyrone, is deceased.