Home­wood woman to mark 100th birth­day

Church she at­tends to cel­e­brate 175 years

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Den­nis Sul­li­van

The day Home­wood res­i­dent JeanSher­rill­was­born, WorldWar I had just ended, women couldn’t vote, therewere only 48 states, air travel was in its in­fancy and mail-or­der gi­ant Mont­gomery Ward’s 12-story tower was the tallest build­ing in Chicago.

Things are a bit dif­fer­ent as Sher­rill pre­pares to cel­e­brate her 100th birth­dayNov. 29.

Yet when asked about the most no­table thing she’s seen dur­ing nearly a cen­tury on earth, she fo­cused on the here and now.

“The way the (2018 na­tional midterm) elec­tion came out, with all the women and eth­nic groups win­ning,” she said.

Raised a Repub­li­can, Sher­rill said she be­came a Demo­crat pretty quickly af­terWorldWar II, though it wasn’t a view­point shared by her fam­ily.

“I know my fa­ther wasn’t fond of Roo­sevelt,” she said. “I think (Barack) Obama is my fa­vorite. I ad­mire him for­what he stands for, what he’s done in spite of the fact he’s African-Amer­i­can. He’s just some­body that I’m very proud to have been alive dur­ing the time

that he was pres­i­dent – when­thingswere chang­ing, and he was sort of the sym­bol, I think, of our steps for­ward.”

That re­sponse prob­a­bly wouldn’t sur­prise Pamela Sigler who, like Sher­rill, is a mem­ber of First Pres­by­te­rian Church of Chicago Heights.

The church, which will cel­e­brate its 175th an­niver­sary just a few days af­ter Sher­rill turns 100, was founded in 1843 as Re­formed Pres­by­te­rian Church of Thorn Grove well be­fore the sur­round­ing area be­came Chicago Heights.

Sigler said the church wel­comed Pol­ish and Ital­ian im­mi­grants to the city in the early 1900s.

It also worked with a de­funct Pres­by­te­rian con­gre­ga­tion to es­tab­lish the Harold Col­bert Jones Memo­rial Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, said Sigler, who is pres­i­dent of the board. The Jones Cen­ter, as it’s in­for­mally known, is now in­de­pen­dently op­er­ated, she added.

First Pres­by­te­rian’s wel­com­ing ap­proach has con­tin­ued, with re­cent im­mi­grants from the west African na­tion of Cameroon re­cently adding “a vi­brancy and di­ver­sity to our con­gre­ga­tion,” Sigler said.

Though Sher­rill traces her fam­ily back to Scot­land, she came to the South­land from cen­tral Penn­syl­va­nia, where she “grew up in a Pres­by­te­rian fam­ily from the ground up. My faith is very much a part of my life and has been since I was a tiny child. It’s hard to put in­towords.”

The former Jean Som­merville met Joseph C. Sher­rill, at Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity. They mar­ried in 1942 — af­ter he con­verted.

“He be­came a more com­mit­ted Pres­by­te­rian than I ever was,” she said, down­play­ing her own ac­tiv­i­ties, which in­cluded serv­ing on the First Pres­by­te­rian Church board.

The cou­ple set­tled in Park For­est in 1957 and joined First Pres­by­te­rian Church. The cur­rent church struc­ture at 1900 Thomas St. was built in 1964-65 af­ter the con­gre­ga­tion out­grewthe struc­ture it built in 1913 at 16th Place and School Street.

The Sher­rill fam­ily grew as well, adding chil­dren Harry, then Anne, fol­lowed by Rob. They moved to a larger home in Home­wood where Harry now cares for his mother. He has built at­trac­tive wall shelves that she has filled with books and hun­dreds of Sports Il­lus­trated is­sues. Joseph and Jean passed their love of Penn State foot­ball on to their chil­dren.

Be­fore Joseph Sher­rill died in 1998, his ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded serv­ing as an elder with the First Pres­by­te­rian Church and in­volve­ment in the Chicago Pres­bytery.

“He was very ac­tive and highly rec­og­nized,” she said.

Though she also long has been ac­tive in her church, Sher­rill didn’t nec­es­sar­ily link her faith to her longevity.

“I don’t think that be­ing a Pres­by­te­rian for 100 years is some­thing that­would make me live longer,” she said. “Don’t say it’s clean liv­ing,” she added, not­ing she’s out­lived three older sib­lings. “Just say I’m lucky.”

Even as it pre­pares for its own an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, Sher­rill’s church is cel­e­brat­ing her. First Pres­by­te­rian Church will honor Jean Sher­rill’s 100th birth­day from noon to 4 p.m. Sun­day with a Thanks­giv­ing din­ner.

The con­gre­ga­tion will mark the church’s 175th an­niver­sary from4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 1 with a Christ­mas OpenHouse and Christ­mas Carol Sing and a 10:30 a.m. Dec. 2 wor­ship ser­vice fol­lowed by lunch. The Rev. Greg Boet­tner will pre­side over the wor­ship ser­vice, and theRev. Jeff Geary, who grew up in the church will re­turn to de­liver the ser­mon.

DEN­NIS SUL­LI­VAN/DAILY SOUTH­TOWN

Jean Sher­rill, who will turn 100 Nov. 29, peruses Shake­speare in the of­fice of her Home­wood home. Sher­rill's birth­day will be cel­e­brated at her church, which is mark­ing its 175th an­niver­sary this year.

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