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Published: Tuesday, 8/5/2003

Centenarian traveled, kept her independence

Catherine E. Saurwein, 101, a Toledo resident for more than a century, died Sunday at Heartland of Perrysburg.

The family did not know the cause of death. She had surgery for a broken hip several months ago and never completely recovered, said her niece Jeanne Johnson.

Mrs. Saurwein had been fairly healthy, with no dietary restrictions. She loved jelly donuts, and often cooked pork chops that she breaded and fried in lard, Mrs. Johnson said.

Although she lived in her own apartment until seven months ago and did her own cooking; family members did the shopping for her.

“It was a chore to find lard in the store,” her niece said.

Mrs. Saurwein was born in Toledo to Charles and Margaret Wening on Oct. 28, 1901. She didn't finish high school but went to business college.

She worked at the former Willys-Overland, where she met her husband, Albert. He died in 1958.

She also worked in the insurance department at Toledo Scale and as a clerk in the Lucas County Welfare Department.

Mrs. Saurwein liked to play penny ante poker. Although Mrs. Saurwein claimed she never won, she said that “while she's looking at us over a stack of pennies,” her niece said.

She also liked to travel, going on a European tour in the mid-1960s, and often visited a sister in California. She was a longtime member of Blessed Sacrament Church.

Neighbors of her West Toledo apartment complex helped keep an eye on her, but she remained true to her independent nature.

“They wanted to be helpful. She did not want to be helped. That's how you get to be 101,” Mrs. Johnson said.

Her clothes, such as the red patent leather boots she wore to bingo games, also showed her independence.

“She liked to buy what she liked, and she wore it,” Mrs. Johnson said.

Surviving are her sisters, Charlotte Sabin and Frances Brown.

Visitation is from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Coyle Funeral Home, 1770 South Reynolds Rd. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Blessed Sacrament Church.

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