Family and faith keeps Donora's Anna Dolnack 100 years young
With a thankful heart, Anna Dolnack of Donora faithfully attends Divine Liturgy in St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic Church on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
“My mother told me that as a baby I had pneumonia and when the doctor came he said there wasn't anything more he could do for me,” she said.
“I could have died as a baby, but God kept me.”
On Nov. 20, the Liturgy was celebrated in honor of her 100th birthday. A reception followed in the church hall.
She admitted she “talks to Jesus all the time” as she goes about her daily chores. She has a healthy outlook on life.
She still makes her special recipe of beef soup, complete with handmade paper thin noodles.
Born in Wheeling, W.Va. on Nov. 22, 1912, she and her four siblings came with their parents, George and Elizabeth Staruch, to the borough where her uncle, John Staruch, had a grocery store at Fourth Street and Meldon Avenue.
The family soon opened their own grocery store at 12th and VanPelt streets.
Dolnack met her future husband, Andrew Dolnack of Webster, at a dance in Miller's Ballroom on McKean Avenue in Donora.
“He walked me home and said ‘no more dates for you because you are my girl now'.”
They were married Aug. 6, 1935, in St. Michael's Church by Father George J. Chegin. Her husband died in July 2003 just short of their 68th wedding anniversary.
“He was a very faithful husband,” she said.
He was employed by American Steel and Wire and also worked extra as a bartender at the Irondale Hotel.
They had one daughter, Marian, who is married to Bob Riley.
“We live just a few doors from each other on Teeple Avenue,” her daughter said, adding, “Which makes it very convenient for me to keep tabs on my mother.”
Dolnack looks forward to Christmas Eve suppers at her home and prepares the traditional mushroom soup, pirohi and bobalki (dough balls and sauer kraut) herself.
“When she was more active she made the greatest paska, halushki and holupki,” her daughter recalled.
Neighbors are accustomed to seeing her on her front porch swing (made by her husband), overlooking the town. She claims to be the first one out in the spring and the last one in when the weather turns cold.
State Rep. Pete Daley and his wife, Sally, came to visit her on Friday, hand-delivering official proclamations.
On her birthday, there was a phone call from Father Joseph Oppong. The former Donora priest called from Cape Coast, Ghana, Africa.
“She was tickled when he sang ‘Happy Birthday' to her,” the daughter said.
Dolnack says she never drank liquor or smoked, but admitted she used to enjoy casino gambling in the company of parish friends.
Emma Jene Lelik is a freelance writer.