Three Cambria County Grange members have received state and national honors.
Mary and John Strittmatter, both 81, of Patton won second place at the state level for Grange Family of the Year and went on to be named the third place Grange Family of the Year at the national level. Margaret Storm, 62, of Chest Springs is the Pennsylvania Granger of the Year.
The state-level awards were announced at the state convention in Johnstown in October; the Strittmatters' national award was an-nounced in November at the national convention in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Mirror photo by?Patrick Waksmunski
John and Mary Strittmatter of Patton are the 2009 Pennsylvania State Grange second-place Grange Family of the Year and third-place Grange Family of the Year at the national level.
Fellow Grange members nominated the Strittmatters and Storm for the statewide awards; the top two state-level finishers are then nominated for the national awards, said Carl Meiss, spokesman for the Pennsyl-vania State Grange.
"We were pretty surprised," Mary Strittmatter said. "No question about it - we were definitely overwhelmed. It was quite an experience to go out to Grand Rapids."
The Grange, Meiss said, is the oldest agricultural and rural organization in the country. It focuses on community service and grassroots lobbying.
"We kind of like a well-rounded Grange family," he said. "We like to see the en-tire family involved, and the Strittmatter family has 14 or more of them involved. They're a very large, very active family."
The Strittmatters once operated a dairy farm but have handed it over to two of their sons and their wives. Mary Strittmatter said they love doing community service through Banner Grange No. 1115.
"It makes you feel good to help others," she said. "It really does. If it's needed, we'll help; if somebody has a fire or some tragedy, we'll do what we can."
Working with the children at Pleasant Hill Grange No. 1861 is Storm's favorite part of Grange membership. She has been president for 20 years.
"I do love it," Storm said. "I love working with kids, especially during the holidays. ... At Easter, I dress up as an Easter bunny. I go to different nursing homes at Easter time, and people get their picture taken with me with the Easter bunny suit on - it's a big thing. They bring their kids and grandkids to get their pictures taken, too."
The Strittmatters have been with Banner Grange for 62 years.
"It is a social thing, with people of like concerns," Mary Strittmatter said. "There's a lot of people who who do a lot of good work. I thought, 'Oh my goodness, there are people who do a lot more than we do, but we try to do what we can.'"