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NORTH LIMA Centenarian honored for work with Camp Fire



Published: Sat, August 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Charlotte Beckner, the council's oldest living alumna, was a group leader in the 1930s.

By ROSA MERCADO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

NORTH LIMA -- Charlotte Beckner has lived through more than a century of change.

She remembers everything from hand-cranking her 1922 Ford to start it to making the switch from ice boxes to refrigerators.

The 112-year-old was honored Friday at Glenellen Nursing Home for her work with the Northeast Ohio Camp Fire USA Council.

Beckner, who was a Camp Fire group leader in the 1930s, received a plaque that reads, "One Person Can Make a Difference."

"She's our oldest living alumni," said Barbara Smith, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Camp Fire Council. "We wanted to honor her for that reason."

Beckner was a leader of at least three groups and helped get other leaders together in her heyday, she said.

Born in Germany in 1889, Beckner came to New York with her family as a child.

Her father worked as a chef in a New York restaurant to support the family of 11 children. When Beckner married, she and her husband moved to Youngstown, where he had a job at United Engineering Co.

Although Beckner never had children of her own, she played the role of mother to the Camp Fire girls.

Her fondest memories of those days? "Sleeping in the barns," said Beckner, referring to the overnight farm trips she spent with the girls. Beckner also would take the girls hiking and teach them homemaking skills.

Secret to longevity

Beckner said working with the kids gave her joy. "The years flew by," she said, referring to her time with Camp Fire over 60 years ago.

When asked her secret to living so long, the sharp centenarian said there really is no secret.

She hinted that it could be in the genes. Her father lived to be 95, and her little sister, Tillie O'Hare, who lives with her at Glenellen Nursing Home, is 98. But Beckner remains the longest-living member of her immediate family.

She thinks her eating habits played a role in her longevity. "I hardly ate sugar or candy," she said.

Carol Ricker, an adviser for the Teens in Action Camp Fire program, said when she learned Beckner was 112, she was interested in learning about all the changes Beckner's seen in her lifetime. "She gives new meaning to the eternal flame for us," said Ricker, referring to Camp Fire's "flame" symbol. "She paved the road for us -- we're still carrying on the flame of Camp Fire."

Beckner handled the admiration of those surrounding her with charm and wit. & quot;I can't get over it, & quot; she said after receiving the award. "This is the craziest day I've ever lived."

rmercado@vindy.com




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