Bridgeport's Active and Appreciative Josephine Lauderman Turns 100 Years Old

By Julie Perine on September 10, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Last week, Bridgeport's Josephine Lauderman renewed her driver's license. This week, she turns 100 years old. 
 
"My birthday is Tuesday, but we celebrated it a little bit early on account of so many of the little kids had to go back to school," she said. "We had a beautiful party at Muriale's."
 
At that celebration were 115 of Lauderman's closest family member and friends, including her daughter Brenda of Florida and son Tom of Parkersburg, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. 
 
Though she has lived for 66 years in the same home, the former Josephine Gerrard recalls with affection her earlier years.
 
"I grew up on a farm on Gregory's Run and lived there after I was married," she said. 
 
She was in first grade when she and her family moved to the farm. 
 
"We moved out there from Liberty Addition to take care of my grandmother and grandfather, who was a methodist minister," Josephine said. 
 
The farm was located just a mile and a half from Wilsonburg. At that time, the hard road went no further than to the Gerrard farm. It was quite a hike to Gregory's Run schoolhouse, but she and her siblings walked the two-mile roundtrip each and every day. 
 
Once completing elementary school, the Gerrard children skipped the eighth grade, then attended high school at Sardis.
 
"The walk from our house over the hill must have been three miles. I walked it every morning and back and never missed a day of school," Josephine said. "Then the Sardis school closed and I went to Victory High School, where I graduated."
 
The kids helped on the farm, milking cows, feeding pigs, gathering eggs and several other chores. Most of that was done in the afternoons and evenings when their dad had to work afternoon shifts at the Carbon, she said. 
 
After graduating from Victory High School in 1933, Lauderman went to work at G.C. Murphy "dime store" in downtown Clarksburg. She was in charge of the greeting card department. At age 21, she was married to Carl Lauderman and the couple resided in the farmhouse with her family. By the time Carl was drafted to serve in World War II, the couple had a daughter. 
 
"Brenda was three years old when he went to Germany," Josephine said. "My sister lived in California and since her husband had to go to Germany too, she and her little boy moved back on the farm too." 
 
Though she was a working mom, Josephine still helped on the farm. Her husband eventually came home from the war and the couple had another child, a son. But Josephine's mother didn't live to see him. She died with heart problems before her 50th birthday. 
 
After working at G.C. Murphy, Josephine became employed by James & Law and one day, even a better job fell into her lap.
 
"One of the men from the (Hope) Gas Company came in and asked if I was interested in working for the credit union there," said Josephine, admitting she was a little apprehensive and wasn't sure she was qualified. "I gave my notice and went to the credit union and they had the same kind of billing machines I was used to using at James & Law."
 
Eventually, Josephine and Carl decided to purchase a house. She now admits that she had no desire to live in Bridgeport, but again, the right opportunity presented itself. 
 
While driving around, the couple stumbled upon a new residential area and a home that was perfect - well, almost.
 
"It only had three bedrooms and we needed four," Josephine said. "The other bedroom was for my dad."
 
They renovated the family room and Josephine's dad moved in with her and her family. After the children were grown and her dad had passed, Josephine and Carl did a lot of traveling.
 
"We've been to Hawaii and overseas to three different countries," Josephine said.
 
Carl worked as postmaster of City of Shinnston. He retired from that position and Josephine retired from Hope Federal Credit Union after 30 years of service. Carl passed away 17 years ago. 
 
It's been a good life, said Josephine, a member of Bridgeport United Methodist Church, the Eastern Star and the GFWC Woman's Club of Bridgeport. She was recently recognized by the latter organization for 50 years of service.
 
Other than having six stints in her heart, Josephine has always been in good health. Never smoking or drinking likely played a role in her longevity, she said. She also believes living a positive, healthy life, has been key - and she continues to do that. 
 
She has been a regular on the Allegiant flight from Bridgeport to Sanford, Fla., where she spends time with her daughter and her family. Though she stays off the roads at night, she does plenty of driving locally; doing her own banking and grocery shopping, as well as eating breakfast out with friends every morning. 
 
"I keep on the move," she said. 
 
She finds it hard to believe that she's been on this early for a full century - since Woodrow Wilson served as U.S. president. 
 
"And I don't know why the good Lord is keeping me here," she said. "There's nothing wrong with me and I remember things. I just keep going."
 
Photos courtesy of WDTV. Read their story about Josephine and coverage of her birthday celebration HERE.



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