Elda Hoovler, who died last month at age 88, was known as Mercer's biggest fan.

At noon Dec. 13 at the Mercer Area Public Library, about 20 students and some parents attempted to break a Guinness record for reading a passage from “Charlotte’s Web” at the same time. This reading group included some home-schooled children and a group from Commonwealth Connections Academy – a cyber charter school. E.B. White wrote “Charlotte’s Web” in 1952.

Walden Media Co., which produced the movie “Charlotte’s Web,” was responsible for setting up the event. To participate, each group had to have witnesses and monitors to make sure the proceedings were followed to the letter. At exactly noon, the reading began with the words, “Salutations!” from chapter five.

These students and parents participated: Jansen Dudt, Katherine Dudt, Caroline Dudt, Sarah Evans, Rachel Evans, Tessa Falcetta, Abigail Hearns, Rosalee Hearns, Bethany Juergens, Sarah Lusk, Timothy Lusk, Hannah McCoy, Leigha McCoy, Harmony Neal, Robert Perry, Lydia Wargo, Glenn Wargo, Matthew Zeronas, Kaitlyn Zeronas, Nathaniel Zimmerman, and Brandon Zimmerman.

The group included early readers and readers up to sixth grade.

After all the information is compiled, it will be sent to Guinness.

After the reading, the students went to Pizza Joe’s for a donated lunch.

I am very anxious to see if they are successful in their attempt to break the record.

Final tribute to Mercer’s greatest fan

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from someone who said that she thought she knew of someone who would make a great subject for a story. 

She was talking about Elda Hoovler, who was known as Mercer’s biggest fan. Elda, who passed away Nov. 10 at the age of 88, had spent more than 50 years attending all of the events in the Mercer school system, including football games, basketball games, plays, concerts, etc.

She was a tireless worker, behind the scenes of many events. For years she was a chaperone for the Mercer Westerneers Baton and Drum Group, traveling with them to Florida, Canada and wherever their appearances took them. It was said that if a girl needed a safety pin, she went to Elda. Likewise she kept track of purses, jackets etc. and helped out wherever she was needed.

At the games, she kept her own statistics, and she filled scrapbook after scrapbook with her mementos. One of her prized possessions was the ball she got to throw out at a Jaycees-sponsored trip to a Pirates baseball game. She also once won a trip to the World’s Fair in New York.

As I sought to learn more about Elda, I kept thinking that the time to honor people is while they are living. I wished I had known her in years past.

But I came to understand that Elda was given honors and recognition while she was alive. She received a commendation from state Rep. Howard Fark in 1992 for her community service and another letter of recognition from Sen. Robert D. “Bob” Robbins in 1994.

I had seen her in the last three Mercer Memorial Day 500 Parades, in her wheelchair, all decked out in patriotic paraphernalia. Her spirit was tireless and she continued to travel to the school and community events even after she had broken a hip and had an artificial one put in that later had to be removed. She demanded that she be allowed to leave the nursing home while recovering from her last hip surgery. Her family said the doctors let her go saying, “When she realizes how hard that will be, she will be ready to come back.” She went home and she never went back, managing on her own, continuing her own independent ways.

When I interviewed her son, I found out that Elda was born in Jefferson Township in 1918, but had spent some of her childhood in a Polk Children’s Home. While there, she played a cornet in a band.

Her son John Oakes spoke very highly of his mother’s efforts in raising him and his sister Gloria Hoovler on her own. She had several jobs, including cleaning for the Borough of Mercer, Mercer Library, and The Herald when the newspaper had a Mercer office.

She worked hard for her church, spending a day a week folding bulletins for Bethany Presbyterian Church. She would show up at events to set up chairs, at a local restaurant to clear tables, just always ready to lend a helping hand. 

She attended graduations and would have a small present for all the graduates. All of this she accomplished and she never even drove a car!

I can’t imagine who will fill the empty shoes left by “Mercer’s Greatest Fan.” Elda is probably in heaven right now listening to an angel choir or keeping stats on a heavenly game of some sort.

Jefferson Township VFD dinners

On Jan. 6, the Jefferson Township Volunteer Fire Department is sponsoring a braised steak dinner from 4 to 6 p.m. at the municipal building, 7407 Lamor Road.

Tickets are: $7 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children younger than age 6. Carryouts will be available.

For more information, call 724-456-2665.

Contact Connie Cousins with Mercer area news at 724-662-9296 or e-mail her at: Items may be sent by regular mail to 334 Fullingmill Road, Mercer 16137.

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