The Remarkable Long-evity of Zelda Long Fischer
The oldest resident at United Methodist Communities at Pitman, Zelda Long Fischer, celebrated her 107th birthday with family members this month. She is also the oldest resident among United Methodist Communities’ nine campuses.
Consider a few of the major events of her birth year, 1910:
- Earth passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet
- George V became King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
- Henry Ford sold 10,000 automobiles
- The Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Chicago Cubs, 7–2, to win the 1910 World Series
- The first air flight delivering commercial freight took place in Ohio
- A form of pneumonic plague in northeastern China, killed more than 40,000 people
Amid the year’s events, Zelda Long, named after the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, was born in Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania. Zelda, the firstborn, grew up in a loving home with her father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters, and experienced “a lot of good food, fun and laughter.”
Zelda attended school in a one-room schoolhouse heated by a potbelly stove, strategically placed in the center of the room for maximum warmth. When thirsty, students drank water from a bucket with a long-handled dipper. After graduating from the eighth grade, she passed the county exam and entered high school.
For the next three years, she lived in Kingston, Pennsylvania with her aunt and uncle and attended Kingston High School. Hunlock Township lacked its own high school; therefore, it paid Kingston her high school tuition each year until her graduation in 1928.
Continuing her education, Zelda entered Nanticoke State Hospital Nursing Program, which included obstetrical training at the Elizabeth Steel-Magee Hospital in Pittsburgh. In September 1931, she passed the state boards and began working as a registered nurse.
About one year later, she began post-graduate studies in surgical and operating room nursing at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She returned to Nanticoke State Hospital in March 1933, where her promised nurse supervisory job awaited and she stayed until January 1934.
A fellow nurse suggested Zelda date her brother, Wilbur G. Fischer. “She thought Wilbur and I would hit it off and she was right,” reflected Zelda. They married in August 1933 and lived in Glen Lyon for 42 years. They had one child, a daughter, Lorna.
Wilbur taught English and Social Studies at Pulaski Junior High School in Glen Lyon, Pennsylvania. With strong Christian roots, Zelda and Wilbur actively participated in community and church life. Wilbur held membership in the Masons and Zelda belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star. Sadly, he passed away shortly before their 50-year wedding anniversary.
Prior to retiring, Zelda worked as a surgical and operating room supervisor. She moved to United Methodist Communities at Pitman in July 1998. Her Christian love, willingness to help others, and outgoing personality has led to many wonderful friendships.
As a teacher and a student of the Bible, Zelda has shown tremendous insight about the scriptures and the Holy Land. Reflecting on her trip to Israel, Jordan and Egypt, Fischer said, “It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Where else would I ride a camel?”
She is intensely proud of her family’s accomplishments. Her daughter Lorna Manahan, a retired music teacher, frequently visits and sometimes leads residents in song. Zelda has one grandson and two great-grandchildren.
Speaking about her remarkable longevity, Zelda affirms, “I cannot believe I’m this old.”