Age doesn't limit on-the-go West Elizabeth council president
One might describe Louise Biddle as an on-the-go type of person.
She serves as council president in West Elizabeth and is recording secretary for the West Jefferson Hills Chamber of Commerce.
She is a member of the West Jefferson Hills School District Foundation for Education and tutors about five students a week in her home.
She teaches CCD at St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Clairton and volunteers regularly at the Divine Redeemer Motherhouse in Elizabeth Township answering phones.
She serves on the Steel Valley Council of Governments board of directors and is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International service organization for retired teachers.
Not bad for a woman celebrating her 90th birthday today.
Biddle was recognized by her fellow council members and representatives of the neighboring borough of Elizabeth for her community service and longevity at a meeting in West Elizabeth last week.
“It enriches your life to do these things,” Biddle said, referring to her many volunteering outlets and activities. She said her long and productive life is based around a few simple principles.
“I try to keep everything in moderation,” said Biddle. “I thank God every day and I'm a positive person. Why consume yourself with negative things?”
Biddle is even handed on council and conducts an orderly meeting. She's served on the panel for about 14 years and said she sees her service to the public in that capacity as an extension of her earlier career as an elementary school teacher.
“That was my passion, to be a teacher,” said Biddle who spent 37 years at the old Roosevelt School in Large. She was hired by what was then the Jefferson Township School District in 1947 after graduating from what is now known as Fairmont State University in West Virginia. She grew up near Fairmont but moved to the area hoping to work as a teacher in Pittsburgh.
It was at Roosevelt that she met her husband, the late Charles Biddle who was also a teacher. In 1955, the couple opened the Gondolier Restaurant along Route 837 in West Elizabeth. The restaurant was around for years and still exists but under a new name and new ownership.
Biddle, who has a son, Charles, retired from teaching in the 1980s but said her interest in it has never waned.
“I have a romance with teaching. It just won't leave me. I just love it when the children achieve,” said Biddle.
Elizabeth Mayor Ann Malady initiated the idea of honoring Biddle with a proclamation from that community and said she learned much from the veteran educator when she was student teaching under Biddle in 1975.
“She was such a wonderful role model for any young person who wanted to become a teacher,” said Malady, who taught for 30 years. “She taught me the importance of gentleness when teaching children. On my last day of teaching I was still using lessons I learned from Mrs. Biddle.”
Malady said that relationship still exists as their respective communities work together on municipal issues.
“I still learn from her,” said Malady.
Malady was one of about 60 student teachers to enter Biddle's classrooms through the years.
Susan Mackulin, who student taught under Biddle, said even after she became a teacher at Roosevelt, she continued to learn from her.
“Any chance you would get, you would look in on her classroom,” said Mackulin, who remains close friends with Biddle.
Mackulin's daughter, Krisha Mackulin, an attorney for McGrail & Racunas and occasionally serves as solicitor to West Elizabeth, said Biddle was a role model for her growing up and remains one now.
“She's such a positive person. She never complains. She's involved in so many things and works 24-7,” said the younger Mackulin. “When you're in her presence, you feel like you're family.”
West Elizabeth councilman Ray Armstrong said the borough is fortunate to have someone like Biddle.
“She's very dedicated to the kids in this town,” said Armstrong. “She'd do anything for them.”
Upon receiving the proclamation from Elizabeth and a bouquet of yellow tulips from her own municipality at the council meeting last week, Biddle said she'll continue to serve her respective communities as long as she can.
“My heart's in the valley,” she said.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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