Reaching 100 was no Piece of Cake for Former Emmaus Woman
Milestone is time for family and friends to reflect on her accomplishment and interesting journey to the United States.
Editor's Note: Tad Miller, a periodic Patch contributer, is the grandson of Dorothy Krishka, who celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday.
At 15, Dorothy Krishka made a life-altering decision when she bade her parents goodbye as they returned to live in Canada while she stayed on in the United States to make a life for herself.
On Saturday, the former Emmaus resident celebrated her 100th birthday with about 60 family members, friends and residents at the Phoebe Home in Allentown. While she never knew how her life would have unfolded had she returned to Canada, her road taken has passed the 85-year test of time by successfully raising a family and living to reach the century mark.
Born April 26, 1912, Dorothy and her family first lived on a farm in Gardenton, Manitoba, Canada. In the mid-1920s, the Krishkas moved to Bethlehem, where relatives told of better economic opportunity. Her father worked at the Bethlehem Steel Corp., but several years of laboring near the Steel's open hearth furnaces imperiled his health, prompting the family's return to Canada -- this time to establish a farm in northern Alberta.
Old enough to choose, Dorothy and her oldest sister, Sophie, elected to stay behind.
Dorothy found work as a domestic and in the early 1930s married T. Stanley Sweitzer. They bought a house at 179 Elm St. in Emmaus in 1941, the home that Dorothy maintained until her move in 2004 to the Phoebe Home. They had two daughters, Sharon Miller of Lower Milford Township and Sandra Nowark of Downingtown, Chester County. Stanley died in 1980.
Of Ukrainian descent, Dorothy did not know English when she came to this country, but she was determined to learn -- and did. She also became a naturalized U.S. citizen in the mid-1940s.
The Sweitzers occasionally were visited by family from Canada. Otherwise, it was letters that kept her in touch with family members. Dorothy also shipped home packages of clothing and other essentials when she could help.
Because of his illness, Dorothy's father, Theodore, never was able to visit. Her mother, Mary, returned in 1953 and a time or two later.
The real highlight came in 1973 when her youngest sister, Violet Dawydiuk, came to Emmaus. Violet was born after the family returned to Canada, so the two had never met. They had previously only written letters, but became fast friends and visited several times back and forth over the next few decades.
Violet also made the trip for the advent of her sister's 100th birthday and joined the festivities Saturday at the Phoebe Home.
In 1987, Dorothy traveled to Edmonton, Alberta. The trip served as a chance for five of the eight children who survived child birth to gather for the first time.
Her hobbies included cooking and sewing -- she made most of her own clothing -- corresponding with family and church activities. She combined a love of plants and interest in people to volunteer to tend plants at St. John's United Church of Christ in Emmaus.