LORETTO - Sitting in a rocking chair and watching the world go by is not for 94-year-old Eleanor Strittmatter of Loretto.
Strittmatter lives and maintains the home that her late husband, Demetrius, built 40 years ago.
She keeps busy as president of the Loretto Senior Citizens, a position that she has held since 2006, and Strittmatter still enjoys going to the Ebensburg and Cresson senior centers,7 too.
Photo for the Mirror by Laura Dunham
Eleanor Strittmatter, believed to be the oldest living lifetime member of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel in Loretto, is comforted by the photographs of her 75 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Demetrius Strittmatter served as president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and after his death in 2006, Eleanor was asked to take over her late husband's position, and she served as a trustee for the statewide council.
Strittmatter graduated from St. Michael's Grade School in Loretto and from Cresson High School with honors in shorthand and typing in 1938.
"My only time working outside our home was the three years I worked as a secretary in the Building Fund office after the St. Francis Monastery and college was destroyed by fire in 1942," Eleanor said.
After that, Strittmatter said she then went on to the "school of life," raising six children - Mary Anne, Joe, Ken, Dan and Janet, all of Loretto, and Theresa of Nicktown. Another son, Ed, passed away.
Of course, Strittmatter's "biggest joy" is her 26 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren that she has displayed on her walls at her home.
"I never miss a birthday or a special event for each and every one of them," she said proudly.
When Strittmatter's husband retired in 1989 after working for 33 years at the Ebensburg Center for the mentally disabled, the couple purchased a large motor home and traveled for some 25 years across North America.
Among their destinations: Canada, Alaska and Mexico.
Strittmatter believes that she is the oldest living lifetime member of the Basilica of the St. Michael the Archangel in Loretto.
Joan Diehl, president of the Cresson Area senior citizen organization, treasures the time she spends with Strittmatter.
"Eleanor is a sweetheart," Diehl said. "Every time she comes to our first or third Tuesday of the month meetings at the Cresson Fire Hall, she keeps us in stitches with her jokes. She is the star of our meetings."
The seniors last week held a cake and ice cream social with state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Johnstown.
"We had a good crowd, and he answered all of our 'senior' questions," Eleanor said.
Ken Strittmatter said what he admires most about his mother is "her excellent memory."
"I remember once traveling with my mom and dad in their motor home cross country and was amazed at how my mom could remember each exit we should take in all those states," he said.
Eleanor was also gifted in the kitchen, Ken said.
"Let's just say," he said, "we never went hungry."