Family, community celebrate 105th birthday of West View woman
The cold and snow could not keep the Smyers family from coming together to celebrate a special milestone.
Four generations gathered earlier this month to celebrate the 105th birthday of Ethel Smyers, the family matriarch, at St. Athanasius Catholic Church in West View.
The Rev. Bob Norton, pastor of St. Athanasius, said Smyers has been a fixture in the church, and recognizing her on her birthday has become a tradition.
“Being 105 years old and someone who is in church every Sunday, she is an inspiration to me personally and the whole church,” Norton said.
Many of the parishioners joined the family for a birthday party after Mass on Dec. 15 to celebrate with Smyers, who takes her seat in the first pew every Sunday with her son, Tom Smyers.
While many family members live in the North Hills, some of Smyers' family members traveled from as far away as Massachusetts, New York and Texas to celebrate her birthday. All four of Smyers' children gathered around her as she blew out the candle on her cake.
Members of the parish's Christian Mothers group also honored Smyers for being a member for 51 years, and Bishop David Zubik stopped by to give Smyers a birthday blessing.
“I figured it was a good start for the day,” said Smyers, who enjoyed the surprise visit from Zubik.
Smyers' devout faith is something she worked to pass down to her family through words and actions and remains an important part of her everyday life.
“She left a great spiritual legacy to all of us,” daughter Virginia Cole said. “All four of us children have stayed with the faith all our lives.”
Smyers was born to Irish-American parents on Dec. 14, 1908, and grew up in Lawrenceville in the early 1900s.
She attended St. Mary's Catholic School in Lawrenceville, where she learned to play the piano. She then attended a secretarial secondary school.
She met her future husband, Edward, while they were both working in the same office. Several months later they went on their first date and married June 12, 1928.
Smyers and her husband moved to West View where they raised their four children — Edward Smyers Jr., Virginia Cole, and Tom Smyers, all of Shaler, and Barbara Tennyson, of Boston.
Her family now totals 23 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great-grandchildren, with two on the way.
“Every year they get more special,” said Jesse Smyers of Shaler, one of Smyers' grandchildren, about the birthday celebrations. “The older we get, the more precious life is, and to celebrate Grandma's 105th is pretty cool. … She's holds this clan together, she's an inspiration.”
For the centenarian, 105 is just a number. She continues to live in the same home where she and her husband raised their family, writes her own Christmas cards and attends family celebrations.
“It feels great,” Smyers said of her age. “I don't feel any different.”
Smyers, whose husband died in 1991, said she values time with her family.
Son Tom takes her to Mass every Sunday. Daughter Virginia and son Edward Jr. have dinner with her each week. Daughter Barbara calls every evening.
For Smyers, her family and faith will remain her legacy, and she thinks she has been blessed with the life she has lived.
“I had a good marriage and good parents before that,” she said, “so I guess I don't have anything to complain about.”
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Flea, Vendor and Crafter Market in McCandless to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
- 3 honeybee hives placed on Mt. Alvernia campus in Millvale to help pollinate garden
- Hampton’s part-time officer earns full-time promotion
- Hampton teen gets chance to earn wings
- Reading at Northern Tier Regional Library could lead to prizes
- Guests share thoughts on faith during feast at Richland mosque
- Turning lanes onto McKnight Road a nightmare for some
- Pine-Richland High to host summer camp focused on robotic basics
- Shaler commissioner named president of Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust