By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — Two Sidney residents who are members of a West Oneonta church will be celebrating a milestone this month.
Helen Burgin and Ted Elliot, both members of the Oneonta branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are turning 99. Their church held a special luncheon in September to mark the occasion, church member Ric Chrislip said. He has known the two since he moved to the area in 1976. She is “a humble and wise lady” with a “gentle sense of humor,” who has served as a teacher and president of the church’s Relief Society.
He is “a deliberate and careful person,” who, like Chrislip, served as a branch president, the equivalent of a minister. Its “commendable” that both stay involved, he said.
Elliott said his birthday is Nov. 5, but he would not be doing anything special. He practiced optometry in Sidney for 60 years — the last 20 on a part-time basis.
When asked his secrets of longevity, he said “no alcohol and no tobacco, as well as lots of orange and blueberries.” He has been interested in genealogies for many years, with a particular interest in the Mormon Church. He met his late wife, LaRue, when he was a medical administrator in a field hospital in Europe during World War II. She was a nurse. As a Mormon, she introduced him to the church.
Although he stopped driving about four months ago, he still goes to services every Sunday. Church members take turns picking him up, he said.
“It’s a nice congregation,” he said. “We have a real nice church.”
Burgin said her family gets her to church almost every week and congregants bring her back. She celebrates her birthday Nov. 16. “It’s not a big deal,” she said. She is going to a family wedding this weekend and hopes her family that lives in this area will feel that is a sufficient celebration. She will probably spend her birthday with them. The couple lived in Franklin for many years. She and her late husband Bob, joined the church in 1969. She was a Baptist and said her husband was not that involved with any church at the time.
“It had much to offer in terms of information to understand the bible,” she said.
Today, “I look forward to going to the service and seeing my friends.” She likes to garden and read — mostly biographies and scripture. She has also enjoyed sewing over the years.
She isn’t sure if she has any secrets to a long life. Having been born on a farm, “I’ve always had good food,” she said. But with a brother who lived to be 93 and a sister who is 91, “it must be in the genes.”