Mrs. Ruth Wareheim Elder, of Littlestown, died Sunday, May 20, 2012, at Homewood at Plum Creek, Hanover. Born on March 19, 1918 in Littlestown, she was the daughter of Maurice C. and Helen (Byers) Wareheim of Littlestown. She was the widow of Col. Edwin W. Elder Jr., who predeceased her on March 3, 1989.
Surviving are her two children, Edwin W. Elder III and wife Barbara of Loudon, Tenn., and Dr. Jacqueline Elder Murren and husband Douglas of Littlestown. She is also survived by her two grandchildren and their families: Donald Edwin Elder, Esq., wife, Rosanna, and children Emma and Andrew of Chicago; and Dr. Gregg A. Elder, wife Karen, and children Kaitlin and Athena of Phoenix, Ariz. She was predeceased by her brother, Robert Byers Wareheim.
Mrs. Elder graduated as class valedictorian from Littlestown High School in 1935. She attended Western Maryland College (now McDaniel), where she majored in English and music, and minored in history. She graduated in 1940, certified to teach all three subjects. While in college, she met her husband, Ed, who was the quarterback of the football team, and they were married in 1941. Although she left teaching to have and raise her children after marriage, she agreed to temporarily return during the Korean War, when there was a shortage of teachers. At that time, she taught music in all of the schools in Adams County, except those located in Gettysburg.
In 1954, Mrs. Elder and her family moved to Europe due to her husband's Army assignment. She spent a year in Orleans, France, and a year and a half in Munich, Germany. Her experiences in Europe provided her with first-hand knowledge of historic sites and events which she later imparted to her World Cultures and European History students.
The family returned to Littlestown in 1961, and Mrs. Elder returned to teaching at Littlestown High School. In addition to teaching World Cultures, she directed the chorus, served as Dean of Girls, chaired the Social Studies Department, and team-taught European History with the European Literature teacher. Mrs. Elder wrote the first successful Federal technology grant application for Littlestown High School, which resulted in 40 new VCRs and televisions at a time when the use of these items for educational purposes was considered innovative. She was also active in the Pennsylvania Music Educators' Association and Delta Kappa Gamma, the women's educators' organization, in which she held her chapter's offices of Secretary and International Relations Chair.
In 1968, Mrs. Elder was one of 50 teachers across the Commonwealth selected to study the literature of the world's five great religions at Penn State, which she then instituted as a course at Littlestown High School. This course, Religious Literature, became so popular with students that she was asked to develop a senior elective, initially called Ethics, then became Contemporary Issues. This course was extremely popular until her retirement from teaching and served as a model for similar courses in other high schools throughout the Commonwealth. During this period, she also earned her master's degree in liberal arts from Western Maryland College.
In addition to her formal duties, Mrs. Elder performed many volunteer services at Littlestown High School, including coordinating the VFW Annual Voice of Democracy Essay Contest, initiating and hostessing the National Honor Society Tea for the inductees' parents, initiating Littlestown High School's participation in the National Social Studies Olympiad and helping to judge football and basketball cheerleader try-outs.
Mrs. Elder had a long history of service and philanthropy in the Littlestown community. She served two terms on the St. Paul's Lutheran Church council, a church of which her grandfather, John R. Byers, was a founder. She also taught the Senior High Sunday School class and served on the Youth Ministry Committee at St. Paul's. She served as a troop leader for the Cub Scouts, Brownies and Girl Scouts as well as several terms on the Littlestown Alumni Association Board.
Mrs. Elder donated the new sound system at Memorial Field in her husband's memory and anonymously paid for varsity jackets for Littlestown student-athletes who could not afford them. She initiated and served as the first chair of the Bolt Booster Club Scholarship Circle Drive. In addition, Mrs. Elder personally sponsored equipment, uniforms and activities for the Littlestown Elementary Football Association, and served on the committee to purchase new lights for Memorial Field in Littlestown. In recognition of her service and philanthropy, she was given the Bolt Booster Club Distinguished Service Award as well as an appreciation plaque from the Littlestown Bolts Elementary Football team. Recently, the Friends of the Littlestown Library chose to name a room in her honor at the new town facility to commemorate her many achievements and contributions to the Littlestown community.
Of Mrs. Ruth Elder's many accomplishments, perhaps the greatest was consistently giving her best while instilling this value in her students and striving, through her teaching and community service, to impart the ideal of tolerance of other people's beliefs, values and opinions.
Memorial contributions in Mrs. Elder's name may be made to the Promoting Future Educators Scholarship Fund, c/o Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12, P.O. Box 70, New Oxford, PA 17350 or the Alpha Fire Company Building Fund, 40 E. King St., Littlestown, PA 17340.
There will be no viewing. A private service will be held at the convenience of the family and conducted by Lutheran Vicar George B. Scott, one of Mrs. Elder's former students, per her wishes. Funeral arrangements are being made by Little's Funeral Home.