Charlotte Benkner has many memories, but the best are of the love she received from her parents.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
NORTH LIMA -- When Charlotte Benkner was born, tractors, synthetic plastic and the tea bag had not yet been invented, and the Roaring '20s were more than three decades away.
On Friday, Benkner celebrated her 112th birthday surrounded by friends and fellow residents as well as four generations of family members at Glenellen Senior Suites and Villas here.
Benkner was born Nov. 16, 1889, in Germany. She is the oldest of 11 children and now shares a room in the retirement community with her younger sister, 97-year-old Tillie O'Hare.
Benkner said the best way to achieve longevity in life is to "just live your life -- live life and enjoy each day."
Biography: Benkner, a homemaker, never had any children, though she was married. She spent much of her time working with the Girl Scouts and various charities. Her husband, Karl, an engineer who taught at Youngstown College (now Youngstown State University), died in the early 1960s.
Mary O'Hare, Tillie O'Hare's daughter-in-law, explained that for the last four decades, Benkner and O'Hare have lived together and taken care of each other. The sisters also have a list of family members who regularly check on their welfare.
Benkner has said her earliest childhood memory is of running and playing in the open fields of a relative's farm in Germany. She also can remember coming by ship through New York Harbor at age 6 and looking up at the Statue of Liberty just after dark as she entered the United States for the first time.
Those were early memories, but the best memories, said Benkner, are of the love she received from her parents.
Activities: Family members say Benkner still will not completely slow down even after more than a century-and-a-decade of life.
She watches TV and reads newspapers and magazines to stay on top of the news. Mary O'Hare said up until a year ago, Benkner consistently wrote letters to everyone just to keep in touch or to the occasional politician who might have rubbed her the wrong way.
She also has never missed an opportunity to vote since the 19th Amendment gave women that right.