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Rose Elder

Raised on a farm outside Cincinnati, Ohio, Rose Elder rode public school buses to Guardian Angel Catholic Grammar School, three miles away, and to high school at St Joseph's Academy in the city. Afterwards, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, for her father's health. "He died when I was 20," says Elder, who had six months of college in Phoenix before she began working for California Water and Telephone. "We called it California Drip and Tinkle. I worked there 23 years." She married Edgar Elder, an Air Force flight engineer, and they raised three children in Hemet, California. When he retired after 31 years of service in 1978, the family relocated to 25 acres close to Cheshire, Oregon. "We raised hay and Black Angus," she says. "Now we raise hay and board horses." In 1993, she took a job with the Lane Council of Governments as a coordinator for its Senior Meals Program. She currently drives 29 miles each way and works from 8 to 1 every weekday, training and scheduling volunteers to serve 32 midday meals at Café 60 Northwest Neighbors in Eugene. Another 20 meals are delivered to nearby homebound seniors via Meals on Wheels coaster wagons. Eleven Café 60s in Lane County serve anyone over age 60 for free, or for a donation of $3 from those who can afford it. All meals are prepared at a central location, Bateman Senior Meals. "It's not just about the food," says Elder. "People come to socialize and to tease Cree and me." Top volunteer Cree Ingles has decorated the dining hall for Halloween, and also to honor Elder, whose 88th birthday shares the date.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 8 October 2015

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