Centenarian Spotlight

Shirley Halliday

“You’re amazing, and you are an inspiration,” were just some of the sentiments heard during a celebration honoring Shirley for 27 years of active and dedicated service to the Penn State Master Gardener program in Cumberland County. Shirley, who just turned 100 years old, joined the program because she loved gardening, and wanted to learn more. She began her tenure at Kings Gap and helped with the holiday parties at Hope Station in Carlisle. Her interest in gardening continues to inspire her love for flowers, but she doesn't want to settle on just one favorite, “I love them all.”

Shirley Halliday
Shirley Halliday with Master Gardeners

Shirley was born on October 7, 1923, in Utica, New York. At fifteen during a summer vacation at Lake George, she met the love her life. They later married after she graduated from Syracuse University. So, what attracted him to her? She coyly said, “he was a good-looking guy and looked good in a swimsuit!” And, they had mutual interests and loved reading and traveling. 

Shortly after getting married, her husband Herbert Edward enlisted in the Army to fight in WWII. Shirley became a housewife and fought the good fight at home. After the war, the Army Colonel became a Doctor of Optometry and opened an office in Carlisle. After 71 years of marriage and 33 years in the army, the retired colonel doctor passed away in 2016.

Shirley and Herbert traveled the world, with England being her favorite spot. She has three wonderful children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

You can still find Shirley doing one of her favorite things as she continues to volunteer at the Master Gardener Program and at The Bookery, inside Bosler Library.

What's the secret to her longevity? “Luck!” said the petite snow white-haired centenarian. But she also says that having a happy marriage, good kids, and being active keeps her young.” And, of course, chocolate cake!

Shirley Halliday

Evelyn Hilda Macher Ries

Evelyn was a part of the greatest generation, who helped win the war on the home front, while her husband fought in the Battle of the Bulge”, said, Linda Ries, Evelyn’s daughter. One of eight siblings and a widow of two WWII Veterans, Evelyn Hilda Macher Ries was born in Pittsburgh on June 13, 1923, married her husband Herbert at 19, two months later, he was drafted into the army, on July 4, 1945, Herbert returned from the war. Evelyn told her daughter Linda, “it was the happiest day of my life!”

Evelyn Ries with birthday crown on
Evelyn Ries 100th Birthday Cake

Evelyn was a homemaker, a PTA member, loved knitting and crocheting, so much so, that she created and donated hundreds of lap robes to the St. Paul Senior Center, in Greenville. Throughout Evelyn’s life, she witnessed Prohibition, the Depression, and in 1944 voted for FDR, and to this day, has never missed an election. Evelyn says that her most wonderful accomplishment in life was raising her three beautiful daughters.

She loves to travel, is a great cook, and a wonderful caring mother. In her spare time, Evelyn continues to knit, crochet, and read. In fact, she got her first library card at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Knoxville Branch. Evelyn has three daughters and five grandchildren. She turned 100 on June 13, 2023.

Evelyn Ries and Commissioner Jean Foschi

Carl Emil Johnson

Carl Emil Johnson turned 101 on November 23, 2022. He went through the Great Depression, served in the Marine Corp during WWII, and worked as a chemical engineer in the photographic industry. He also has numerous patents for photographic paper, but says humbly, “they’re just patents!”. When you meet Carl, you would never think that he has made 100 trips around the sun.

Carl Emil Johnson 8.16.22
Carl Emil Johnson 8.16.22

A New York native, the centenarian still lives with his beautiful 92-year-old wife, of 32 years, who has created a floral summer paradise in their home in Carlisle. When you talk with the couple you can’t help but feel the love in the room. Carl said he met Sylvia, his second wife, at a library and “it was love at first sight”. He has traveled the world with his lovely wife, detailing his trips to France, Italy, England – and perhaps closer to home, New Hampshire where he most recently met a dear friend who is 99. His first wife passed after a 15-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. 

His secret to longevity, “it’s love, genes, exercise, and maybe a little luck,” said the author. Yes, he has penned an autobiography, Reflections and Memories – Part One, detailing the moments of his life during the 20th century.

Each morning, Carl gets up at 7:30, has a breakfast of blueberries and cereal, reads the New York Times, Washington Post, and then checks his email. Pride shines across his face as he talks of his six children, fourteen grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. He and Sylvia get to see the children at least once a year, but during COVID, their conversations with them were limited to Zoom.

Carl says he never really thinks about his age, and really, never thought about reaching 100. But we do! On behalf of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, Carl was honored with a certificate on Tuesday, August 16, by Kim Groome with Cumberland County Aging & Community Services. We wish you many more birthdays to come, Carl!

Carl Emil Johnson 8.16.22