Background Photograph by Rachel Millard
Anna C. WoodsideFebruary 25, 1912 ~ January 9, 2013 (age 100)
MILLERSBURG- Anna C. Woodside, 100, of 4 Tandy Lane passed away January 9th, 2013 at home.
The Twentieth Century witnessed advancements and developments of astounding complexity. These have and will affect society for all time to come. For most of this century and now into the Twenty-first Century Catholic High/Bishop McDevitt of Harrisburg has flourished and impacted thousands of lives.
One of the earliest graduates Anna Christine Reuwer Woodside, 1929 interviewed with us to help us span the century in light of her life and that of Catholic High/Bishop McDevitt, Anna at age 99 ½ is one of our oldest graduates.
On February 25, 1912, the same year that Arizona entered into statehood as our 48th and the Cunard Line’s Titanic took that fateful dive, Anna Christine and Dorothy Suzanne, identical twins, were born to Henry and Anna Reuwer. They joined their sister, Mary, just two and a half years old at the time.
The Reuwer household bustled with activity as the girls grew. Mr. Reuwer owned the Golden Seal Drug Store located at 11 South Market Square. This spot proved popular for many Harrisburg residents who gathered there for lunch or to buy soda or ice cream from the fountain bar. There was a garden in the rear for outdoor seating. Mrs. Reuwer took care of her children to see that they studied hard and made sure they received a quality Catholic education. Mrs. Reuwer also busily cooked for the meals at the Golden Seal. Anna, her sisters and cousins and very close family members all attended St. Laurence Parish School on State Street in the shadow of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the State Capitol. St. Laurence was staffed by the Sisters of Christian Charity who still serve Bishop McDevitt High School as well as Cathedral School.
High school for Anna and the Reuwer family was on North Street in Harrisburg a few blocks from St. Laurence. Anna began here in 1925 in the midst of the “Roaring Twenties” when the country experienced the “Best of Times”. There were 25 students in Anna’s class of 1929. This included her twin sister, Dorothy. Even in ’25 Catholic high found it difficult to accommodate the growing student body. A campaign began to raise money to build a new school which would end up at 2200 Market Street. Mrs. Ruewer was very involved in the fundraising campaign even though the new building which opened in 1930 would not see her children attend there.
Anna recalled that Catholic High on North Street had a reputation for being strict and emphasized academics. The Sisters of Mercy staffed this building exclusively. All students were required to take Latin for four years. The school housed a swimming pool in the basement and there were no sports teams until Anna was a junior, 1928 when football began. The school at this time did not extend itself into providing social entertainment. However, students would get together and go to movies (27 cents admission) or they would go to one of the student’s homes. (many times that of the Ruewers) where Anna remembers rolling up the rugs in the living room, turning on the radio, dancing, laughing and talking. Owning a radio was just as important in the 1920’s and 30’s as a television is today. Most things were done in the connection with the home and family even lunchtime would see Ann, Dorothy and Mary walk home to eat. (the students were given 1 hour to eat and then return to school)
Then asked what memory she had of high school, Anna mentioned the piano. It seems that every day as the students were entering the school building, someone in turn had to play the piano, always the same song. Everyone had the requirement-no exceptions! Anna smiled as she remembered her days playing saying, “I wasn’t very good, but we had to do it even if you didn’t know how to play.”
After graduating in June of 1929 from Catholic High on North Street, Anna and Dorothy headed off to college in the fall. College Misericordia in Dallas, PA a newly established college of the Religious Sisters of Mercy who taught at Catholic High, accepted the girls. They would be roommates for the next four years. The newly founded college consisted of one building for classes and one dormitory. Anna recalls that most of the student body commuted. About six weeks after classes began, the New York Stock Market crashed. It was a difficult time for the country and for the Reuwer family. Ann’s parents still owners of the Golden Seal extended credit and took their losses but managed to keep their daughters in college during this Great Depression. Anna and Dorothy were graduated in 1933 with degrees in Home Economics/English and General Science for secondary education.
In the spring, after graduation, Anna worked at the family drugstore. The superintendant of the Gratz Schools called her to see if she would be able to fill in until the year ended. Anna took the job and completed the year in Gratz. When she was getting ready to leave Gratz, her house parents, where she boarded, gave her a going away party. It was at this party where she met a handsome banker, Allen Gilbert. Allen, president of the Millersburg Trust Company (now Mid-Penn Bank) courted Anna. They dated and fell in love but not without difficulty since her parents objected to the relationship since Allen was older and not Catholic. However, “Love conquers all.” On February 1, 1935 Allen met Anna for lunch and proposed marriage. So on that day, February 1, 1935 in St. Lawrence Rectory, Anna Reuwer, nearly 23 years old, became Mrs. Allen Gilbert. They honeymooned in Florida and settled in Millersburg.
Anna and Allen enjoyed twenty wonderful years of marriage. Their one daughter, Ruth, lives today in Nova Scotia, has four grown children and seven grandchildren. Anna to this day enjoys visiting her daughter in Nova Scotia.
After Allen died, Anna substituted as a teacher in Susquehanna Township for a year. In the meantime Halifax High School had an opening. Anna took this job closer to her home and taught for two years when a job in Millersburg became available. Anna for ten years taught senior English and for her final 3 years of teaching at Millersburg was able to teach in her major, Home Economics, and was very grateful to be able to end her career teaching what she loved most.
Ten years after Allen passed away Anna in 1966 remarried and lived in Palmyra. Her husband, Cyrenius Signor, and she kept the household in Palmyra and in Millersburg until he passed away in 1976. After ten years, Anna married Judge Robert Woodside (1986), a prominent Harrisburg attorney, Judge and professor at Dickenson Law College. Judge Woodside and Anna were married for eleven years before he died. Anna presently lives in Millersburg and has a winter residence in Arizona.
When asked how she feels about the moving of the present Bishop McDevitt from Market Street to the new location on Page and Spring Creek Road she told us that she never went to the Market Street building but did have a love for it because her mom who worked very diligently to raise funds for the school loved the building. She did say, “We have to progress. We can’t stand still.” She will look forward to seeing the new building which is slated to be finished for her 101st birthday. Change is a good thing and we need to embrace and help future generations receive a good Catholic education.
At 99, we can learn much from Anna. Throughout her whole life, Anna always kept busy. At this time of her life she loves to travel and have an active lifestyle. To stay fit, she swims laps or walks in the pool at least three or four times a week. To this day, she and her girlfriends make a point to get to the pool where they spend an hour exercising. To do this she drives to Elisabethville to the “Y”. Being active and physically fit is very important to her. She recently was singled out as the member of the month at the Elisabethville “Y”.
When at home in Millersburg or Arizona, Anna spends time reading, emailing, and having visitors. When shown around her home in Millersburg, which she built in 2005, we went to her office where she has her computer which she uses to email and receive communiqué from her family and friends. When asked to what she attributed her long life she said she guesses it is good “genes”. Her twin, Dorothy died at age 94 and her grandmother was 94 also when she passed away. Other family members died in their 80’s and some are still alive in their 90’s.
On February 25, 2012 Anna will celebrate her 100th birthday. We wish her the best and invite her to come see the third building, a “New School” ,in the Harrisburg Catholic/Bishop McDevitt history. (This article was taken with permission from the Bishop McDevitt Alumni News).
She is survived by her daughter Ruth McCarty of Nova Scotia. Grandchildren William McCarty (Donna), Allen Markley McCarty (Tracy), Benjamin McCarty (Patricia), Brie McCarty Warren (Robyn)
Great Grandchildren Philip McCarty, Thomas McCarty, and Kimberly McCarty, Julian McCarty and Annabel Warren, Tory Davis , Matthew Glenn-Ford, Alex McCarty, Travis Davis, Austin McCarty.
Step-Daughter Ginger Signor Seff (Fred) and step-son Donald Signor (Kathleen). Grandchildren Betsy Seff Girgis (Michael), Joanna Seff Schultz (Jordan), Michael Signor (Samantha), Steve Signor.
Great Grandchildren Simon Girgis, Penelope Schultz, Sammy Signor, and Sophia Signor.
Step-daughter Jane F. Woodside. Grandchildren Michael Woodside (Barb), Laura Phillips (Ren), and Diana Woodside.
Great grandchildren Emma and Nathan Woodside, Lee and Mitchell Phillips, and Tristan Witmer.
She was preceded in death by step-son Robert J. Woodside and wife Joyce.
There will be a viewing on Friday, Jan. 11th from 5:30 - 8:30pm and again on Saturday, Jan. 12th from 9-10:00 am at Hoover-Boyer Funeral Home in Millersburg. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, Jan. 12th at 11:00 am at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Millersburg, with burial to follow at Oak Hill Cemetery in Millersburg.
Donations can be made to In lieu of flowers to Millersburg Ferry, PO Box 93, Millersburg, PA 17061 or Historical Society, PO Box 171, Millersburg, PA 17061 or Millersburg Pool 207 James Road, Millersburg, PA.
To sign the guestbook go to www.hbfuneralhomes.com