AAUW members celebrate milestone birthday of Rodenheffer

Wanda Dengel, Vice President, American Association of University Women/Portsmouth branch

A birthday banner greeted AAUW/Portsmouth members as they entered their regular meeting room to finally celebrate a milestone birthday of a longtime member.

After a number of rescheduling changes due to weather, several members of the Portsmouth branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) finally gathered to celebrate the 95th birthday of Margery Rodeheffer. “Marge,” as she is lovingly known to fellow members, was born on Jauary 1, 1923 in Illinois. She was married to her first husband for barely a year when he was called into military service. He served as a bombadier in World War II and was killed shortly after completing half of his mission. She met her current husband, Calvin Rodeheffer, when he was a seminary student more than 70 years ago. Marge and Calvin will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary this month. Calvin is known in our local community for his many years of service to the Portsmouth Methodists as the former United Methodist Church’s district superintendent who oversaw the building of Hillview and its Healthcare facility. Marge recalled, “When we were first married in 1948 and lived in the parsonage in Illinois, Calvin’s annual salary was $2000.” Not only did she witness a salary change over the years, but many other changes, as well.

When asked about changes she has observed in her lifetime, Marge commented, “Just think about the changes that you have seen in your own lifetime. The world has certainly gotten smaller as a result of digital technology. That is the biggest change for me. You feel closer to everyone because you can be in contact with them in just an instant.” Marge grew up during the Great Depression when families championed simplicity and efficiency. It was a lifestyle that the Great Depression demanded of all of its citizens.

Marge has been a member of the local AAUW for 50 years. She, her husband, and their children arrived in Portsmouth in 1968 when Betty Hodgden, a professor at Ohio University/Portsmouth and later Shawnee State University, recruited her to join the organization.

Marge is the oldest active member of the local branch; although Helen Wilkerson, a charter member of the group, has been a member of the local organization since it was accredited by the national office in 1948. Wilkerson, due to health reasons, is unable to participate as an active member but continues to support the local organization.

The birthday luncheon consisted of an assortment of appetizers including chestnuts from France, homemade soups, croissant chicken salad sandwiches, and a wide variety of homemade gourmet desserts including a birthday cake made by Marge’s daughter-in- law Lynne Rodeheffer. The junior Rodeheffer baked a Williamsburg orange cake with butter frosting. The numbers 95 sat proudly atop the delicious cake which was enjoyed by all in attendance.

Prior to cutting the birthday cake, AAUW members broke English crackers which contained tissue paper crowns, horns of distinct sizes tuned to a particular musical note, a couple of riddles and a trivia question. Everyone donned their paper crowns and each member attempted to stump fellow members with the riddles and trivia questions. Members then lined up in numerical consecutive order to play a simple song as a warm up which was followed by Happy Birthday. The group had great fun playing their horns and extending birthday wishes to Marge.

The senior Rodeheffer was presented with an assortment of birthday cards ranging from the sentimental and handrafted to the humorous. The group also presented her with an assortment of hand lotions, a scarf, and a fresh floral bouquet.


Wanda Dengel, Vice President, American Association of University Women/Portsmouth branch