Longtime Miami Laker Rosemary Emma Schmittel Fritch became a centenarian this summer.
She was celebrated on her Aug. 12 birthday by friends, family and the place where she worshipped and volunteered for two decades, Miami Lakes Congregational Church/United Church of Christ.
“I’m very thankful for the time the good Lord has given me here on earth,” Fritch said through a friend.
Fritch drove a car until she was 99. She now resides at the St. Anne’s Nursing Center & Residence in Miami.
Fritch was born in Clayton, Mo., where she went to class in a two-room schoolhouse.
She attended high school in Missouri and college, too, at William Woods University.
A century’s worth of world events -- the first Transatlantic flight, the Great Depression; World War II; the early days of television, the Civil Rights movement and astronauts walking on the moon -- happened during her lifetime.
Fritch married Kenneth Fritch in 1943 and they had a daughter, Barbara Layman, who is 76 and lives in Miami.
“Just watching her is a great example to keep going,” Layman said about her mother.
The family moved to Miami Lakes in 1970 and ran a trophy business in Miami.
The family’s home was on Orchid Drive in the Lake Martha neighborhood.
After Kenneth Fritch died in 1984, his widow kept the business going for a few years, her friend Nancy Jones said.
“She is a blessing to us all,” Jones said of Fritch, who she knows from church.
Fritch is an avid reader and works on crossword puzzles.
Until recently she played bridge and did needlepoint, her church said.
Fritch belonged to the congregation for 24 years and volunteered as the vice president of the Friendship Circle and Membership Care Ministry.
“Rosemary has a special way of befriending everyone she meets, with her love of life, her positive spirit, her readiness to share her talents and time with those in need, and her abiding faith in her Lord and savior, Jesus Christ,” Jones said.
Fritch’s talents and gifts included knitting tiny hats that she would donate to hospitals to warm the heads of premature babies, Jones said.
Fritch would also make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for people who were homeless.
The town of Miami Lakes sent Fritch a special 100th birthday certificate from Mayor Manny Cid.
As for what has prolonged her friend’s life, Jones said Fritch followed a healthy diet, with lots of vegetables and not too much red meat.
And there was perhaps a bit of divine intervention, too.
“Her faith has helped her live this long,” Jones said.
There was also a bit of stubbornness and determination to remain independent, those who know her said.
“I don’t think she had too many obstacles in life, but she is very strong and didn’t let any obstacles in life stop her from living her life,” Layman said
One obstacle that is immovable is the coronavirus pandemic, and it quashed plans for Fritch’s family to celebrate her milestone birthday, at least for the time being.
Layman said the extended family hopes to gather in the near future for a reunion to celebrate Fritch.