Long-time Seaford resident to celebrate 100th birthday

By Lynn R. Parks

Louise van Horn was having trouble in her high school math class. She turned to the vice principal, who lived down the street, for help. “I was hopeless,” she says. “He told me that if I lived to be 100, I would never be able to do that math.” That was over 80 years ago. Little did that math tutor know that, eight decades later, Louise van Horn Epperson, Seaford, would be celebrating her 100th birthday. True to his prediction, and despite an active mind and a ready smile, she still makes no claims at being a math wiz: “My aunt got all the brains in the family,” she says. But she will admit to having had a full life — “We had some of the craziest things happen,” she says — and to surprise at having reached this milestone in her life. “I can hardly believe it,” she says. “And the fuss people are making. It is just too much.” Epperson’s friends will gather Saturday afternoon in St. John’s United Methodist Church to celebrate her birthday. She has already started receiving cards and gifts, including a teddy bear, “Teddy.” “She is very interesting and charming,” says Jane Watson, Seaford, a member of St. Luke’s who often visits Epperson. “It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to visit her.” Epperson was born in Wilkes Barre, Pa., to Sterling E. and Martha Cohee van Horn. “I was born at 6 p.m. Sunday and by 7 p.m. Sunday, I was on the cradle roll at the church,” she says. Her eldest brother, Sterling W., saw to it that she was duly registered at the Central M.E. Church in Wilkes Barre. Sterling was 7 years older than his sister; Ralph was 4 years older. Epperson left high school and attended Wyoming Seminary, Kingston, Pa., from which she graduated in 1923 after two years with a concentration in home economics. Her brother once boasted that she could prepare a full-course meal in no time flat; her needlework, the fineness of which she blames for deteriorating vision, decorates her room at LifeCare at Lofland Park, Seaford. She was married Aug. 27, 1932, to Oliver Maxwell Epperson, who at the time worked for a men’s clothing store. “That was a real love affair,” she says. After their marriage, Oliver worked for a while for the state. The couple moved to Seaford several years later, when he was offered a job with the new DuPont nylon plant. The DuPont job did not last, however. Oliver accepted a position with Manlove Automotive, from which he retired more than 30 years later. Oliver, who was a member of the Lions Club, died Sept. 25, 1990. Louise moved to LifeCare in 1999 from the West Manor Apartments. Epperson is a 56-year member of the Acorn Club. She is still a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Seaford, where she served as treasurer of the Women of St. Luke’s for 11 years. “She was very involved in the church,” Watson said. “She would pay her mortgage first, and her church pledge second.” Epperson is no longer able to attend regular church service. But she reads newspapers, enjoys watching the Home and Garden channel and the Weather Channel on television and keeps up with numerous friends. Epperson says that she will always be glad that she and her husband chose to move from Wilmington to Seaford. “I have always been happy here,” she says. “I wouldn’t leave Seaford for anything.” She is sad that so many people with whom she was close have died. “I look at pictures of old friends and realize that I’m the only one left,” she says. “That’s what hurts.” But she refuses to let it hurt for long. After a brief silence, she lifts her head and smiles. “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken,” she says. “She is teaching us all to grow old gracefully,” Watson says. “She is remarkable.”

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