WAUSEON - Meta M. Buehrer, 109, a lifelong homemaker who was believed to be the oldest resident in Fulton County and among the oldest people in Ohio, died of an apparent stroke Wednesday at her farm home near here.
"She was a God-fearing woman, and she was a hardworking farmer's wife," her daughter, Nola Buehrer, said.
Steve Proctor, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Aging, told The Blade earlier this year that the elder Mrs. Buehrer "is got to be in the top five [oldest people] in the state."
She was proud to have voted in every presidential election since women were given the right to vote in 1920.
But when Mrs. Buehrer turned 108 in January, 2005, she told The Blade she did not want to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for her age. "I'd probably break the camera," she joked.
Several of Mrs. Buehrer's close relatives lived into their 80s and 90s. Why did she live so long?
Mrs. Buehrer credited "a lot of hard work" for her longevity in a 2003 Blade interview.
"And I always say her good Swiss blood and her faith," daughter Nola added.
"My father would always say, 'Nice girls you find at home sitting by the stove darning socks,'●" the elder Mrs. Buehrer said. "You tell that to girls nowadays and they'd walk right out on you."
Her most treasured accomplishments, however, were the homemaking and farming skills she developed.
She butchered, gardened, canned, cooked, quilted, and could handle a team of horses in the fields, though she very seldom drove a car.
She learned to sew by making clothes for her only doll, purchased with 50 cents she received one Christmas.
And she became so adept that she could clip a picture of a dress from a newspaper, draw her own pattern, and make one for herself just like it.
"I always thought I was a person of many trades," she said.
Born in a log house near Sherwood in Defiance County, Mrs. Buehrer, whose maiden name was Huber, was the youngest of 13 siblings born to Anna and Martin Huber, who came to the United States from Switzerland in 1882.
The family spoke their native language at home; Mrs. Buehrer's mother never learned English. When Mrs. Buehrer was a teenager, they moved from Defiance County to Archbold and then to north of Wauseon.
She went through the eighth grade three times, not because she was slow but because "there was nothing else to do," she said in the 2003 interview. Wauseon High School was about six miles from the family's farm and considered too far away for her to attend.
Employment opportunities seemed just as limited.
"The only kind of jobs were when there was a new baby," Mrs. Buehrer said of working as a hired girl washing diapers and managing households while new mothers recuperated.
She was not paid much, she recalled. To save enough money to buy a new coat, for instance, she would need stints with several new mothers.
Later, in Toledo - where she had a cousin - she worked in a peanut plant, removing the skins of peanuts by hand.
She met Harry Buehrer in church; he farmed in Williams County near the Henry County line. They married in 1923 when she was 26, and they had three children.
Anna, 82, is a retired factory worker. Huber, 79, is an architect with Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering in Maumee. Nola, 77, is a retired registered nurse.
Except for short periods of time, Mrs. Buehrer and her two daughters have lived together since the family moved to their farm on County Road H in 1939. Her husband died in 1950.
Mrs. Buehrer enjoyed traveling, quilting, watching her grandchildren and great-grandchildren play, and watching flowers and birds in her garden.
Mrs. Buehrer stayed active until very recently.
Until about 2000, she cooked regularly for her daughters.
In November, 2004, at 107, she took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Wisconsin with her daughters to observe a niece's 90th birthday.
Earlier that year, in July and October, she vacationed with her daughters in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Throughout 2004, she made numerous trips to Shipshewana, Ind., where she enjoyed watching the Amish farmers work.
Mrs. Buehrer was a longtime member of North Dover United Methodist Church in Wauseon.
Surviving are her son, Huber Buehrer; daughters, Anna Buehrer and Nola Buehrer; six grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at North Dover United Methodist Church, Wauseon, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today. Arrangements are by the Edgar-Grisier Funeral Homes, Wauseon.
The family suggests tributes to Sara's Garden, the Otterbein Homes, or a charity of the donor's choice.