It’s hard to know if Kerma Bradford Nordyke ’27 is the oldest living Denisonian, but we’re pretty sure she’s near the top of the list.
The Almanac of Upper St. Clair, Pa., recently featured Nordyke on her 107th birthday, which she celebrated at the Friendship Village of South Hills retirement community, where Nordyke has lived since 1986.
Born June 4, 1905, in Coshocton County, Ohio, Nordyke is a former elementary school teacher. During her birthday party, she recited from memory the multi-stanza poem “The Value of a Smile” to an audience of her five children, 15 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
She also shared advice for those with a little less life experience: “Be kind, and try to help people.”
Nordyke’s son, Robert Minor, said that his mother’s philosophy has helped her through hard times. “Things aren’t as bad as you think they are, and just smile.” And Nordyke has had a number of hard times. Her first husband, Donald Minor ’26, who was her Denison sweetheart and the father of her five children, died unexpectedly in 1964 while conducting a church choir. Nordyke later moved her children to a farm in rural Pennsylvania with her second husband, Albert Hoge, who also died unexpectedly. She later married John Nordyke, a fellow resident of the retirement community. The two spent several years together before he died.
Her days are now spent resting at Friendship Village, and she smiled when she told The Almanac that she loves to sleep. But her true passions, she said, are teaching, reading, reciting poetry, and, of course, her family.