It was a bittersweet day on May 24, as friends of Elsie Pilcher gathered at Pecos Senior Center to tell stories and talk about the 101-year-old woman they were all so blessed to know.

Elsie suffered a mini-stroke on April 27 and passed away quietly on May 11. She would have been 102 in August.

Elsie’s son, Jim, spoke to the group about his mother and some of his favorite memories of her. She’ll always be remembered for her positivity, her love of the Chicago Cubs, and her baking.

“Whenever we had a family get together everyone knew Elsie would bake the cake,” Jim said. “She loved it.”

She was born Elsie Radke on Aug. 23, 1910 on a farm near Ferney, S.D. She was the ninth of 10 children. She eventually moved to Elgin, Ill. Elsie married Gordon Pilcher in 1936 and they had one son, Jim. She came to Ahwatukee Foothills in 1994 to live with Jim after her husband passed away.

Elsie was known at the senior center for her Pinochle skills. She played every Tuesday and Thursday at the center and often won. When her health began to decline, Jim says she told him she wanted him to do something at the senior center to remember her. It’s the place she spent so much time and also where she celebrated her 100th birthday.

When asked her secret to a long life, Elsie had a few different answers. To some she said the secret was positivity, but to others she said she never drank whiskey, never smoked, and never drank milk.

“Her bones were fine,” Jim said. “For those who grew up in a farm I can just picture those big brothers milking cows by hand. If the girls were in the barn, they got squirted. She didn’t want anything to do with milk.”

Services for Elsie will be June 9 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Eglin, Ill. Her ashes will be buried next to her husband in Lakewood Cemetery following the ceremony.

Jim said Elsie’s nephew will perform the sermon. He gave the sermon for two of her brothers and gave each of them a nickname, which was then included on their headstone. Elsie’s nickname will be “The Baker.”

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