Stoverstown residents will have an opportunity to hear their area's history from their elders.
"I have a lot of history on my mind, and I got to talk about it," said Don Gentzler, who will turn 90 on Aug. 22. "I have pages of history of the stores, post office and (other information) of Stoverstown past."
Gentzler and eight other seniors who grew up in Stoverstown will be honored at a "Celebrating the Wisdom of our Elders" open house event from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, in the fellowship hall of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 4767 Lehman Road
in Spring Grove.
The ages of the events' honorees range from 89 to 100. They'll also share their memories of how Stoverstown was when they grew up, said Willa Lefever, the event's coordinator.
The event is free, and attendees can have lunch with the older residents. Meals will be provided by St. Paul's United Church of Christ, also in Stoverstown.
Willa Lefever is co-owner of Sonnewald Natural Foods, located at 4796 Lehman Road. Her mother, Grace Lefever -- who will turn 90 on Dec. 12 -- also will be among the "elders."
Willa Lefever said she decided to organize the event after learning that the village has at least four residents who will turn 90 years old this year. Stoverstown's 90s residents include a couple and two sisters.
The project: Willa Lefever is doing an oral history project with several of them and wants to give the community an opportunity to hear what she's been learning.
Gentzler, who participates in the oral history group, has a 100-year-old sister, Flo LaPrarie, who now lives in York Haven. She, too, is one of the "elders" who will attend the Aug. 19 event.
Gentzler and his father, Robert Gentzler, owned and ran the former RD Gentzler & Son grocery store in the 1900 block of Stoverstown Road.
Gentzler said his father opened the store in 1902 and was involved with it until his death at age 77 in 1973. Gentzler said he kept the store going until 1978, when he closed it.
In its heyday, the store did notary services, collected utility bill payments and provided hunting and fishing licenses, Gentzler said.
"It was the capital of the country for years," he said. "My dad helped a lot of people with food for free. The store did things I'm proud of. We knew each other in this area."
Changing times: But things has changed over the years as older residents died and Stoverstown became a "bedroom community," Willa Lefever said.
"People moved here, but they work elsewhere, shop elsewhere, go elsewhere for entertainment," Willa Lefever said. "They just sleep here. There used to be gas stations, restaurants, shoe repair shops, a lot of businesses and places to go for entertainment. Now there's nothing."
Willa Lefever said her store has plans to change that and made its first move in June 2008 when it purchased the Gentzler store property and an adjacent bar.
"We hope to develop it with a café and a facility room where people can come and spend time with their neighbors," she said. "People don't do well in isolation. People thrive in community."
--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at email@example.com.