103 years young

Published 7:08 am Saturday, November 6, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - There aren't many people in this world who can say they've lived an entire century and can still clearly convey the many events of their lives.
Long time Niles resident Lorraine Steiner celebrated her 103rd birthday Wednesday with friends and family in the home of her caretaker, Betty Frost, whom Steiner lives with in Buchanan.
Born Nov. 3, 1901, Steiner has led a very interesting life. She has travelled the world, lived through the Great Depression and two World Wars, and ran a Niles factory for nearly half a century.
Her story begins in Kalamazoo where Steiner, born Lorraine Lauder, was born. Her family would then move to Constantine before settling in Niles, when she was 14-years-old.
It was at Niles High School where Lauder met the man who would someday become her husband, Ollie Steiner. The pair began a six-year courtship which would lead to their May 31, 1924, wedding.
After graduating from high school in 1920, she went to work for the railroad in Niles, receiving free boarding passes during the nine years of her employment, allowing her to travel across the country free of charge.
During her travels, often by herself, the young Lauder visited the Statue of Liberty, California and many other sites all over the country which were uncommon for young women of the time to visit.
After her nine years at the railroad, Steiner, who was married by then, began what would become one of the longest chapters in her life - her time at the Simplicity Patter Co. plant in Niles, where she worked for 47 years.
Steiner was hired as the plant manager, then she was charged with hiring the rest of the plant work force, making sure the plant ran smoothly, and signing all the checks at Simplicity for 47 years.
Even though she was keeping things under control at the Simplicity plant for all those years, Lorraine and Ollie still found time to travel the world twice.
One of the most memorable experiences for the couple was when they were vacationing in Cuba in the spring of 1961, when some Cuban exiles launched the Bay of Pigs invasion.
It was during her time in Cuba Lorraine discovered a product not yet available in the United States.
The Steiners' travels took them to a number of other places as well.
On a trip to St. Augustine, Fla, the Steiners drank from Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth.
While visiting Mexico, the couple got the chance to see a bull fight, an experience Steiner said she didn't ever want to repeat.
In the April of 1998, just a month shy of their 75th anniversary, Ollie passed away. Lorraine still puts his watch on every day when she wakes up in the morning.
Even though she was ill and didn't get the chance to go vote in Tuesday's election, Steiner has voted in every election she's been able to. Her favorite president was Woodrow Wilson.
A typical day for Steiner now involves frequent naps and watching tv. Her favorite tv show is "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" which she guesses the correct answers quite often.
Even at her old age, Steiner still makes her bed every morning and dresses herself before having breakfast with Frost. Despite being deaf in her left ear, Steiner can still hold a conversation so long as words are spoken into her left ear.
Steiner wanted to express her deep gratitude to everyone who sent her flowers and cards on her birthday Wednesday, they helped to make it a memorable one, she said.