NARFE holds birthday party for 100-year-old Valley Forge resident

Photo by Heather Tyrrell George A.A. Shal, First Vice President-Membership, Pennsylvania Federation of Chapters, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, talks to Helen Debus after presenting her with a plaque from NARFE.

PHOENIXVILLE — National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association honored one of its members with a 100th birthday party on Tuesday.

NARFE CHapter # 372 celebrated the birthday of Valley Forge resident Helen Debus (full name Helen Gertrude Margaret Davis Debus) on Tuesday at the G Lodge in Phoenixville. Debus, who has lived in Valley Forge all of her life, turned 100 on Oct. 26 and enjoyed a family birthday party at the Desmond Hotel on Oct. 27.

Debus worked as assistant to the postmaster at Valley Forge Post Office for 25 to 30 years.

“With a job like that, you needed to know how to do everything,” Debus said.

She said she didn’t have to sell anyone stamps during her time there, but she did other jobs like sort mail. She retired in 1976.

Before working at the post office, Debus ran the Valley Forge Service Station, owned by her husband, Willard E. Debus, while he was serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. Willard served as the secretary to the chief of staff.

Debus said she remembers teaching herself a lot of what she had to do for the gas station while her husband and her brother were serving overseas.

She also worked for a refrigerant gas company in Paoli and at the Kimberton Country House.

Gene said the house they live in is about a mile away from where Debus grew up. Their house dates back to the 1700s.

Debus attended Phoenixville High School and remembers walking four miles every day to school with her brother.

Debus is still very lively at 100.

Her son, Gene, said she is always ready to go places. This summer he took her to the air show at Atlantic City. Gene said she went to sleep at 2:30 a.m. and was up at 6:30 in the morning.

Gene said Debus enjoys working on crossword puzzles and cryptograms each day. She also loves cats. She and Gene have five cats at home. Debus is a member of St. Issac Joques Church, Wayne.

She was honored as Citizen of the Year by Schuylkill Township Historical Society on Nov. 3 at Phoenixville Country Club.

The G Lodge is Debus’ favorite place to go in Phoenixville. Gene said owners Dennis and Terri Dreibelbis have been very kind to her throughout the years.

During the birthday party on Tuesday, George A.A. Shal, first vice President-membership, Pennsylvania Federation of Chapters, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, presented Debus with a plaque from NARFE and a plaque from Congressman Jim Gerlach’s office.

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