Getting to know a centenarian
Monday, June 09, 2014 12:12 AM
BY JIM LANGHAM
DHI Media Coorespondent
ROCKFORD — Rockford resident Velma Schumm doesn’t have much to say these days about approaching 100 years of age, but one thing does strike her about the centenarian achievement, it went a lot faster than she thought it would. “It doesn’t seem possible,” said Schumm at her home in Maplewood of Shane Village on Sunday afternoon. “If it is, it is. It sure went fast.”
Schumm was born on June 18, 1914 in Black Creek Township to Phillip and Leona Schumm.
“What year is this, is it 2014,” said one of the social workers to Schumm.
“I expect that it is,” said Schumm with a smile on her face. Schumm will celebrate her 100th birthday with a cake and punch reception on Saturday, June 14, from 2-4 p.m. at Maplewood of Shane’s Village, south of Rockford. Friends and neighbors are invited.
Schumm recalls attending grade school in the one-room King School. When she wasn’t in school, she was on the family farm outside of Rockford helping do chores with cows and pigs or working out in the field.
Since that time, Schumm has seen half of modern history write itself in a book. She has lived through World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnamese Conflict, Desert Storm and the recent struggles over terrorism in the Middle East.
“It sure is a different world now than it was back then,” observed Schumm, “A whole lot different.”
“I worked in the tomato fields and in the garden,” observed Schumm. “My dad worked with horses in the field. I remember that we didn’t have horses to start with. It wasn’t until we were older that we had electricity.”
Schumm recalls originally speaking German in her home as a child, a tradition that had been passed on since her family with German background settled in northwest Ohio in the middle of the 19th century.
Schumm said that her family never buckled under the life-changing conditions of the move to America. They put forth a strong effort to be good United States citizens.
Schumm recalls her family’s faithfulness to church attendance and described their house of worship as, “that little church just on the other side of the river.”
With the lack of modern conveniences such as radio, television and record players, it was common in that era to sit around home in the evening and sing and play music instruments.
Early in life, she showed exceptional musical talent; as a result, she was given piano lessons. By the time she was 16-years-old, she was playing the piano and organ for services beneath the gorgeous altar of Zion Lutheran Church at Schumm-Willshire where she’s been a lifetime member. “I worked as a bookkeeper much of my life,” said Schumm, who worked in the office at Rockford Hardware and later at Hinkle Insurance. It was noted that she received high praise from faculty members at Rockford High School for her sense of detail and precise penmanship.
Schumm never married and lived with her parents at the old home place. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t fully enjoy life. One of her most cherished memories is that of traveling across the country with her father to visit relatives in California. She also took pride in the fact that she dipped her toes in the Pacific Ocean at the time.
For many years, Schumm corresponded with girlfriends in Germany. She has assisted in making blankets for homeless people and baking pies for Farm Focus every year. She is especially excited because her big sister, Emma Boerger (age 103) of Decatur. Indiana and “baby sister,” Kate Bischoff (age 97) of Arizona are anticipating on being present at her party.