Talk about an institution.

For half a century, Pat Wasemann has served as a noontime aide at Bethel Park’s Memorial Elementary School, watching as a couple of generations of students grew up and had children – by now, possibly grandchildren – of their own.

Eric Chalus

Memorial Elementary Principal Eric Chalus offers birthday greetings.

“They see me on the street or at the store,” she said, “and they still remember me.”

At Memorial, no one forgot that she would be turning 90 on Nov. 17. Students prepared by using their artistic skills to create Andy Warhol-style portraits of her to adorn a section of hallway and the wall behind a seat next to the main office named Miss Pat’s Bench in her honor.

Miss Pat happened to be sitting there Wednesday when a surprise visitor arrived to wish her well. In addition to birthday greetings, Bethel Park School District Superintendent James Walsh presented her with a stylish bouquet of pink roses.

He asked about her fondest Memorial memory.

“That would take a while, after 50 years,” she replied before offering: “I could say when Mr. Chalus came to work here. But maybe not.”

Principal Eric Chalus joined other well wishers in chuckling at her good-humored joke before he presented her with a gift from school staff members, including Joyce Koch, who organized the celebration.

As often is the case with folks who reach nonagenarian status, Miss Pat also fielded a question about her secret to longevity.

“I’ve been very lucky all my life with my health,” he said. “I guess that’s the main thing, as long as you’re lucky enough to stay healthy and live the right life.”

She agreed, too, that being around children for 50 years will tend to keep you young at heart.

Pat Waseman and Eric Hamilton

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Pat Wasemann stands with physical education teacher Eric Hamilton, one of her best friends at Memorial Elementary School.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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