Parishioners celebrate 100th birthdays

Friday, Sep. 03, 2021
Parishioners celebrate 100th birthdays Photo 1 of 5
Sara González de Aguirre
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Two parishes in the Diocese of Salt Lake City have been blessed with members of their congregation who have reached the age of 100.

St. George Parish boasts three centenarians, one of whom is 102: Sara González de Aguirre, Verda Cardwell and Eleanor Miltner.

Sara González de Aguirre was born in Capilla De Milpillas, Jalisco, Mexico on June 9, 1921. She married Jose Aguirre in 1945. The couple raised eight children, including son, Deacon Rigoberto Aguirre. In 1977 they emigrated to the United States and in 1982 they moved to St. George. Jose Aguirre passed away at the age of 69, but Sara enjoys 22 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. She has a great devotion to the rosary, and still enjoys crocheting, gardening and cooking. When asked the secret of her longevity, she simply pointed to the sky, pastoral assistant Carole Drake said.  

Verda Cardwell celebrated 100 years of life on March 30. She moved to St. George from Fort Collins, Colo. in 2005 at the age of 84. Cardwell grew up on a farm with her four siblings in Crofton, Neb. During the 1930s, the family survived a huge dust bowl that swept a region from Texas to Nebraska.

Cardwell became a teacher, and with her husband Les had three children. In her free time, she volunteered at hospitals, hospice care, taking Holy Communion to the sick, and sharing her voice in music with church choirs for years. Cardwell begins each day greeting her daughter Ann with “Good morning” and the words “Thank you, Jesus; praise you, Jesus” – thanking God for another day, according to her daughter.  

Eleanor Miltner celebrated her 102nd birthday on May 13. An only child, she was born in La Crescent, Minn. Eleanor and her husband, Leo, married in 1940; they had three children.  In 1995, they moved to St. George. Miltner has eight grandchildren and recently welcomed her 17th great-grandchild.  

“It is what it is … but it will become what you make of it,” is one of Miltner’s favorite quotes and a creed she lives by, according to Drake.  

At St. James the Just Parish, two centenarians have served long and faithfully. Ann Sneddon, who was the only daughter of Italian immigrant parents, was born on July 8, 1921, in Standardville, Utah. Her mother died when she was just 5 years old and her father moved the family of one girl and six boys to Kemmerer, Wyo., where he raised them alone.

Sneddon married her husband Charles in 1943; they had three children. Ann Sneddon now has 12 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. The couple moved to Ogden from Kemmerer in 1958. A retired bookkeeper, Sneddon volunteers on the parish’s funeral and linen committees. She is an active member of the Promoters of the Sacred Heart. She enjoys golfing, handwork and ceramics.

“Take each day as it comes,” is Sneddon’s advice, who says God has been good to her, according to parish secretary Mary Miller.

Rosie Tonti was born in San Pietro Aveliana Italy on Sept. 2, 1921. During World War II the town was taken over by Nazis and the community was forced to hide on a nearby hillside. In 1950, Tonti, her fiancé Dominic and her mother emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Ogden. The couple was married in 1951 at St. Joseph Catholic Church and went on to have three daughters. Tonti is the grandmother and great-grandmother of four.

Rosie Tonti worked for many years as a skilled seamstress at Utah Tailoring Mills. Several of her custom designs were worn by the rich and famous, movie stars and rodeo queens. She finally retired at the age of 80.

“Keep a-go” and “God Bless America” are her mottos, according to Miller, who is her daughter.

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