GENESEO – Vera Madlem, the eldest member of Geneseo First UMC, passed a milestone Sept. 26 when she celebrated 90 years of church membership.
Vera is 99 years old and joined the church as a girl. She is currently a resident at Hammond Henry Extended Care.
Bishop Frank Beard stopped by Hammond Henry facility Sept. 24 when he was in town to speak at Geneseo First UMC. He congratulated Vera on her incredible anniversary of church membership.
In Tracing Our Roots, written for the church's 150th anniversary in 2000, Vera shared the following memories:
"I've been a member of First United Methodist Church since 1926, so I have many fond memories of my church home. When I was in high school, I remember adults assembled in what is now called the "overflow" room. Good old Sunday School songs were sung to the music of our orchestra. It was peppy and everyone really sang out... Mr. Fred Calhoun gave a talk once a month as a temperance leader and spoke on the evils of alcohol. After our session in the overflow room, everyone went to their respective Sunday School classes. I remember many pastors through the years such as Rev. Gordon,
Rev. Dunagan (who married Emil and me), Rev. Pattison, and others.
As a young girl I lived on a farm 11 miles west of Geneseo. Our whole family attended both Sunday School and church every Sunday. Most of the town kids went home after Sunday School so there weren't too many in church. I noted everyone in the back rows, no one down front. Attendance wasn't large, but everyone knew everyone else.
A social highlight was the Annual Fall Festival. We had an auctioneer and all sorts of produce were sold as a money-making event. People brought such things as apples, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, onions, eggs, dressed chickens, fresh farm butchered meat, homemade butter, bakery goods, etc. One good selling item was bittersweet. There's not much bittersweet around anymore. Nellie Hanna went out in the country and brought hedge balls for decorative use. Everyone had a good time, and bidding was fast and good. Of course, the Methodists had dessert then... Many good members are long gone, but not forgotten."
Vera will be 100 in May 2017. Member Joyce Rogers joined the church in 1936, making her an 80-year member.