Eleanor Van DykePublished 9:54pm Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Eleanor Virginia Martin Van Dyke, of M-140 North, Niles is celebrating her 100th birthday Thursday, July 8.
She was born July 8, 1910 to Thomas and Nellie Martin in Ruffsdale, Pa. She attended elementary school in Yukon, Pa. She is a 1929 high school graduate of South Huntington Township, Pa. She obtained her bachelor of arts degree in 1933 from Park College, Parksville, Mo.
Eleanor taught elementary school in Pennsylvania for four years. She also taught for 15 years in Niles at Fairland, Electric Light and Eastside schools.
She received her theological master’s degree in 1939 from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Eleanor served as the director of Christian education at First Presbyterian Church, Niles from 1939 to 1941.
She married Edwin N. Van Dyke on July 8, 1941 in Pennsylvania in the church where she was baptized and commissioned.
Eleanor has four brothers and seven sisters; four children, Benton Thomas Van Dyke, of Kalispell, Mont., Heather June Van Dyke Pletcher, of Niles, John Edwin Van Dyke, of Niles and Jenny Marie Van Dyke Chapla, of Niles; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Eleanor has been an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Niles; has served as a Michigan ordained elder; and taught Sunday School for more than 80 years.
She has been an outstanding volunteer for Lakeland Specialty Hospital in Berrien Center.
She has approximately 15,000 hours of volunteer service at Lakeland. She has made thousands of lap robes, both hand-crotcheted and machine-sewn.
She regularly participates in activities at the Niles Senior Center, where she attends the exercise class twice a week, does volunteer work and enjoys special events there.
Eleanor plans to leave for the annual family reunion in Pennsylvania on her birthday. All four of her children will accompany her to this very special time with family, recalling stories and experiences, enjoying singing and being grateful to be together.