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Retired Yough School District nurse lived like life was 'heaven on earth'

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Louise M. Fenton, Madison

About five years ago, Louise Fenton played the music video game “Dance Dance Revolution” with her great-grandchildren.

“She was competing against the kids to Elvis songs,” said her grandson Matthew McClellan of Columbus, Ohio. “I think she was doing pretty well.”

Mrs. Fenton broke her leg skiing black diamond moguls in her 60s and fell off a go-cart she was riding when she was in her 80s.

“I think she said ‘yes' to things more than she said ‘no,'” McClellan said.

Mrs. Louise M. Fenton, 96, of Madison, died Friday, March 17, 2017. Born in Madison on Aug. 11, 1920, she was the daughter of the late John Otto Miller and Martha (Sporck) Miller, operators of Millers Inn in Madison.

Mrs. Fenton embodied William W. Purkey's quote about dancing like nobody's watching, singing like nobody's listening and living like life is “heaven on earth,” said granddaughter Heather Bjerke of Dallas, Texas.

“She's the person you will be telling stories about 100 years from now,” she said. At her 90th birthday party, “she danced on that dance floor as if she was 16.”

She graduated from West Penn Hospital's nursing program and became a registered nurse.

“She was a service-oriented person,” said her daughter, Marilyn McClellan of Columbus, Ohio. “She wanted to be an airline stewardess, but you had to be a nurse before you could become that back then.”

Marriage and World War II changed Mrs. Fenton's career plans.

Her brother, the late August H. “Augie” Miller of Scotch Plains, N.J., was getting his civil pilot's license when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He lied about his age to become a civilian instructor for the Army Air Corps and then joined the Army as a transport pilot.

She became chairwoman of the local Salvation Army, organizing blood drives during the war.

She obtained a bachelor's degree in nursing from California University of Pennsylvania, when it was known as California State College, and a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

She worked for 15 years at various hospitals and then became a school nurse for the Yough School District, where she worked for 27 years until she retired.

“She was a person that would help you,” her daughter said. “She was very good at talking with patients and personal care.”

After retiring, she volunteered as a member of the West Overton Quilt Museum and logged more than 5,500 hours of volunteer service in the hospitality shop of Excela Westmoreland Hospital. She served several terms as chair of the hospital's auxiliary board.

“She was a very talkative person,” Marilyn McClellan said. “She loved people. She was very social. She was always going to parties.”

Mrs. Fenton loved to cook and would serve guests at her home “course after course,” said her great-granddaughter Bailey McClellan of Columbus, Ohio.

“She loved to entertain, and she loved to host people,” she said. “She would make friends of strangers and invite them to her house.”

Mrs. Fenton was preceded in death by her son, David E. Carlson, and her husband, Glenn D. Fenton.

She is survived by her daughter, Marilyn McClellan and her husband, Terry, of Columbus, Ohio; and her daughter-in-law, Jeannie Carlson, of Aberdeen, Scotland; five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday with a celebration service immediately following at the Beatty-Rich Funeral Home Inc., Madison.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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