Centenarian: (noun), a person that is 100 years old or older.
Last weekend I attended the 100th birthday celebration for Velma Louise Schumm, the most recent Schumm centenarian. Velma, who turned 100 on 18 June, has lived all of her life near Rockford, in the home where she grew up. She is a life-time member of Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm.
Velma is the daughter of Phillip and Leona Schumm and she is my third cousin once removed. We descend from different immigrant Schumm brothers, the sons of Johann Georg Schumm. Velma descends from Martin and Maria (Pflueger) Schumm, while I descend from Ludwig and Barbara (Pflueger) Schumm. The Schumm brothers married Pflueger sisters and therefore we also have common Pflueger ancestors.
Velma is an accomplished musician and started playing the organ at Zion Lutheran, Schumm, when she was 16. She continued as Zion Schumm’s organist for many years. In fact she played the organ there for my parents’ wedding ceremony in 1950. Velma would always try to attend our Christmas concert at Zion Chatt. Her neighbors, Tim and Vickie, would usually bring her and it was a pleasure to see her there.
Velma knows German and is able to read the Old German Script. Not many people around here are able to read the old Gothic writing and she was gracious enough to help me translate Zion Schumm’s records a few years ago. Velma is familiar with the names of those who attended Zion over the years, which was also very helpful. We spent several Sunday afternoons going over the church records.
Another Sunday afternoon, in 2002, Velma went with my mom and me to Fort Wayne to attend the Pflueger reunion, the descendants of Michael Pflueger. Even though we had never met this side of the family we discovered that we knew several people in common and we enjoyed visiting and sharing information with our Pflueger cousins. In the car, on our way home, the three of us sang some of our favorite hymns. Velma liked to sing as well as play the organ.
Velma always attended the Schumm reunion and she would accompany the Schumm Singers. Velma is also interested in history and I would see her at meetings of the Shanes Crossing Historical Society in Rockford. Over the years she has had to cease many of these activities because of her eyesight.
Rev. Jeffrey Patterson, pastor at Zion Lutheran Schumm, presented Velma with three congratulatory certificates last Saturday, one from Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod; one from Rev. Terry Cripe, President of the Ohio District, Missouri Synod; and the third from Zion Schumm’s congregation.
I would imagine Velma also got a letter from President Obama. My grandma Schumm received a letter from the President when she turned 100.
Velma was the baptismal sponsor for Wilma (Schumm) Schmidt, who was also in attendance at Saturday’s birthday celebration.
Velma is not the only Schumm to attain the title of centenarian. In fact, Velma’s older sister was among those in attendance at last week’s birthday celebration. Yes, Velma’s sister Emma (Schumm) Boerger is 103! Velma’s younger sister Anna Katherine, at age 97, is well on her way to the century mark.
Here are some other Schumm relatives that also reached the age of 100:
- Karl George Schumm turned 100 in 2013. He and his wife Isabelle have been married 76 years and are the longest married couple in Ohio.
- Hilda (Scaer) Schumm (1895-1997), my grandmother, lived to be 101. Although her maiden name was Scaer, her grandmother was a Schumm, so she had those Schumm longevity genes in her blood.
- Estella Rosin Elizabeth (Merkel) Habegger (1909-2010), daughter of Ernest Theodore and Tillie (Schumm) Merkle, wife of Martin D. Habegger.
- Bessie Schumm (1887-1988), daughter of Ludwig George and Catherine (Bonnewitz) Schumm.
- Paula Henrietta Buechner (1901-2004), daughter of William and Katherine Magdalena (Schumm) Buechner.
- Bertha Henrietta Schinnerer (1896-1997), daughter of Rev. Johann Jacob Friedrich and Anna Margaret (Evers) Schinnerer, and wife of Walter Adolph Wier.
Not direct Schumm descendants, but married into the family:
- Edith Hausling (1888-1990), wife of Rev. Otto Paul Schinnerer.
- Lena Strubel (1869-1969), wife of August George Bienz.
Happy Birthday to Velma Schumm and congratulations to all the other Schumms who have reached the 100-year milestone.