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Monroeville native turning 100

By KAY SCHINDLEY • Mar 13, 2018 at 2:00 AM

MONROEVILLE — A celebration is planned for this weekend to honor Bette Wolfram, who turns 100 on Friday.

Since her birth on March 16, 1918, Wolfram has witnessed and lived through many unimaginable changes. She was born near the end of the “War to End all Wars” and has gone through World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the continual conflicts in the Middle East. The good times of the 1920s followed by the Great Depression and the many economic ups and downs of the last 100 years.

In her career, Wolfram began by handwriting in ledgers to bookkeeping machines to computers. She was first school board treasurer for what became EHOVE Career Center. Shortly before her retirement she was a pilot site for the first Northern Ohio Educational Computer Association. Until recently, she kept in touch with family and friends through emails.

One-hundred years deserves several parties so Wolfram will be celebrating with fellow residents at Parkvue on Friday and Saturday. Her family is hosting an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph social hall.

Wolfram is the third of six children born to Carl and Gertrude (Greenfelder) Tyler.

Her family owned and operated Tyler’s Department Store (1870-1982), a third-generation dry goods store in downtown Monroeville which she has always, until recent years, called home. Of course, the phrase “best town by a dam site” is often repeated when asked where she is from. It also invokes her pride in her home and community.

Wolfram and her siblings attended St. Joseph Elementary School and later Monroeville High School. She was a member of the class of 1936, the first class to graduate from the current high-school building. She helped organize class reunions for as long as there were members to attend. She is the second-oldest Monroeville Alumni at this time.

The Great Depression era was not kind to the residents of Monroeville and as a result the family sold the family home and moved to the apartment above the store. The home was purchased by Dr. Howard Sparks and later sold to Dr. Larry Hadley. Wolfram helped “Doc” and Mary Sparks with their children as well as in the office.

After graduation, Wolfram helped her brother Jim in the store and also kept books at the local grain elevator. She met and married Herbert Gies, of Norwalk, in 1941. Shortly after they began their lives together World War II intervened and Herb was drafted into the Army.

Wolfram joined him in San Antonio, Texas for a year until he was sent to the European theater as a medic. She returned to Monroeville to await the birth of their first son.

After the war they added two more children to their family and Herb secured employment as plant superintendent of Fisher Norwalk Auto Body. He maintained that position until the plant closed and then retired from Stokley Van Camp, also in Norwalk.

When the children were of school age, Wolfram once again entered the workforce first as the Monroeville High School secretary and later as the clerk/treasurer of the board of education.

In 1966 she left Monroeville and joined Superintendent Creighton Ghrist to became the first treasurer for the board of education of what was then EHOVE Joint Vocational School. She always liked to say “she was hired by the board the night that they purchased the land for the campus and she paid all of the bills for all of the buildings.” She said is extremely proud of the part she played in the creation of the school and the campus. Wolfram retired from EHOVE Career Center in 1982.

Her career as treasurer influenced her sons both of whom graduated from Cleveland State University with degrees in accounting. They both also received their CPA accreditation. Her daughter retired from EHOVE  in 2014 as executive administrative assistant.

After Herb’s death in 1976, Wolfram married Mark Wolfram, also from Monroeville, and they spent their retirement years traveling and wintering in Florida. They usually didn’t turn down any Huron County Farm Bureau tours organized by Ralph and Alice Walcher and enjoyed several European and Alaskan tours. On these tours they met and made many friends.

After her retirement, Wolfram was determined to learn a new skill or hobby every year. All of the grandchildren were sent off to college with a handmade afghan in their new school colors. Ceramic nativity sets were crafted for Christmas gifts, chairs were caned and she took up the art of quilting to name a few.

After Mark Wolfram’s death, Bette Wolfram kept busy volunteering at Fisher-Titus Medical Center, where she was her own best customer in the gift shop. She and special friends were quite active in the Norwalk senior center, once again never missing an opportunity to travel with the group. She also began spending her winters in Sun City, Ariz., where her sisters Peg and Clara resided.

In 2010, Wolfram decided she would be happier living with others and leaving the concerns of home ownership behind moved into Parkvue Assisted Living Center in Sandusky. Her older sister Mary was one of the first residents of the facility. Wolfram continues to reside there at the present time and is quite active in the residential life at Parkvue.

The fact that Wolfram no longer needs to cook is also quite the bonus. She said she also keeps everyone on their toes at Parkvue. She made daily visits to check the progress that Wasiniak Construction — and her nephew Rich Pheiffer — were making on the indoor therapy swimming pool addition at Parkvue a few years ago.

St. Joseph Church, Monroeville, has been an important part of her life and she still refers to herself as being a St. Joseph parishioner and points with pride the many things that her generation did for the parish: Building the Sisters House, elementary school and rectory, renovating the church, and updating the social hall. A highlight of her month is a visit from “Father Ron.”

Wolfram is the mother to three children, Michael (Kathie) Gies, of Carmel, Ind.; Steve (Sandra) Gies, of Westminster, Md.; and Kay (Jerry) Schindley, of Monroeville. She is the stepmother to James (Jean) Wolfram, of St. John Isle, Fla.; Mark (Mary Ann) Wolfram, Sun City, Fla.; and Bernard Wolfram, of Toledo; grandmother to 13 and great-grandmother to 21. The family said there is always excitement at Parkvue created by the great grandchildren when the family assembles in the party room to celebrate Christmas or Bette’s birthday.

Longevity seems to run in her family as her cousin Norb Schafer, of Norwalk, celebrated 102 birthdays. Bette Wolfram credits hers to her deep faith, friends and family. An occasional Appletini might also help.

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