Meadville Tribune

Local News

July 1, 2013

Cambridge Springs honors its eldest resident

CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — The latest season of Autumn Flaugh’s life has won her an honor passed down through Cambridge Springs’ elders for 86 years.

Flaugh, who turned 95 this past February, became the 36th recipient of the Gold-Headed Cane, a relic bestowed on the borough’s oldest living resident.

“I never thought I’d live this long,” she said Sunday evening, thanking fellow community members as they joined to praise God and country at the First Baptist Church’s second annual Hymn Sing.

Janet Beanland served as mistress of ceremonies for the event, attended by more than 100 borough residents who gathered to sing several classic hymns, including “Amazing Grace” and “Hallelujah Chorus.”

“I’ve known Autumn since I was 8,” Beanland said. “She says she’s known me since I was born.”

Beanland read some of Flaugh’s biographical information as well as a few milestones in her many years of Cambridge Springs residency, including her 73-year marriage to the late Gordan Flaugh, who passed away in 2009.

Autumn Flaugh, born in February of 1918, has been a member of First United Methodist Church in Cambridge Springs for 62 years, Beanland said, cooking a “good many” turkey dinner and remaining active in her community.

“She attended school in a one-room schoolhouse,” Beanland said, reaching back into Autumn’s earlier years. “She went to school in a horse-drawn wooden school bus.”

Autumn Flaugh was one of the charter members of the San Rosario Auxiliary in Cambridge Springs and a 68-year member of Order of the Eastern Star, according to Beanland.

Additionally, Autumn and her husband were members of the Nepentha Dance Club, which featured evening dances and live music for no more than 24 active couples from its inception in 1919 to its eventual discontinuance around 1975.

When asked what her favorite dance was, Autumn replied, “The foxtrot.”

Beanland also shared her own memories of childhood visits to the Flaugh household, spending summers in the back yard talking and laughing.

“(Autumn) was a great pie-baker,” Beanland said. “Her husband was a great story-teller. We had a good many times over the years.”

Flaugh, assisted by her nephew, Bill Van Matre, accepted the cane from Cambridge Springs Mayor Randy Gorske.

“This is the third golden cane I’ve given away as mayor,” Gorske said, recalling the celebration when he presented the cane to its previous bearer, the late Philip Drake, who was 96 when he passed away at Rolling Fields nursing home in early April.

“It’s a simple thing, but it sends a powerful message,” Gorske added. “It lets our longtime citizens know their community cares about them, their longevity and their contribuitions.”

The Justified by Faith Choir of Saegertown Methodist Church, which sang several hymns throughout the evening, dedicated a song to Autumn, titled “In My Heart There Rings a Melody.”

Additionally, longtime Cambridge Springs resident Stan Fedorek, also 95 years old, congratulated Autumn before the congregation.

Fedorek is only five days younger than Autumn, according to Beanland.

“We’re not 95 years old,” Fedorek said as he shook Autumn’s hand, “we’re 95 years young!”

Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kfekos@meadvilletribune.com.

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