WELLSVILLE — On Saturday afternoon, friends and family will gather at the Wellsville Manor to celebrate the 100th birthday of John Nydegger.
A lifetime resident of Wellsville, Nydegger lived through the Great Depression, stepped up to take care of his mother and siblings when his father died, sailed off to World War II as part of the Greatest Generation and returned to a quiet life in business, raising four kids, enjoying the Genesee River and even kicking up his heels with his wife, Virginia, as members of a local square dance club, according to his daughter, Suzanne Nydegger.
“My dad was always very supportive of us,” said Nydegger, recalling how her parents would pop into the classroom where she taught second grade in Scio to help out.
Nydegger was born Feb. 15, 1914, in Wellsville, the son of Ernst and Susie Nydegger. He attended and graduated from Wellsville Central School. When he was just 11 years old, his father died, and from then on he helped support the family, said his daughter. He married Virginia (Ginny) Ennis in 1940 and they were married for 62 years before she passed away in 2002.
As a young man, he worked at Ludden’s Shoe Store and enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
“The funny thing was, Suzanne Nydegger said, “is that he couldn’t swim and he still joined the Navy.”
His military service kept him stateside, where he worked in a mail office.
After returning to Wellsville, Nydegger worked at First Trust bank as a teller and later at Scoville Brown as secretary/treasurer. After that, he returned to First Trust, where he again worked as a teller until that institution closed its doors.
“Dad never wanted to be an officer in the bank, although he was offered the position,” Suzanne Nydegger said. “He always said he just wanted to be able to talk to the people.”
John and Virginia raised four children, John, Suzanne, Richard and Mary Kay Nydegger Shrider. They have nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Throughout his life, he enjoyed fishing the Genesee with his good friend, Harold Dash. He also sang with the Apollo Club and in the Trinity Lutheran Church Choir where he also cut up and pressed sauerkraut for the church’s annual Election Day dinner and was a member of the Men’s Club.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, he and Ginny spent many Saturday nights dancing with the Grand Squares square dance club.
Along with his wife, Nydegger was an avid gardener, growing vegetables for the family table. When he wasn’t busy getting his hands in the dirt, he was busy sawing and sanding and creating small woodworking projects such as shelves, birdhouses and rockers.
“When I was teaching, dad made several shelves for my classroom and he and mom were always coming into the class. The kids called them grandpa and grandma,” Suzanne Nydegger recalled.
Nydegger also noted that while her dad has a standing offer for a ride in his great-granddaughter’s (Vickie Nydegger Ketchner) Blu-By-U hot air balloon, “Dad is happy to keep his feet on the ground.”
Friends are welcome to attend Nydegger’s birthday party from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Wellsville Manor.