99 reasons why Lillian Frankhouser, voter extraordinaire, charms in Stevens

By on November 10, 2016

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Donald who?

Hilliary, huh?

Move over, you presidential wannabes.

At the Stevens Fire Company on Tuesday morning, there was one true celebrity, one person who personified American authenticity and independence.

It was just about 9 a.m. Tuesday, when Lillian Frankhouser, a spirited 99 1/2-year-young Reamstown area resident, entered the electoral spotlight.

Stepping out of her daughter Judy Wingenroth’s car, Lillian was treated like Lancastrian royalty.

A woman working the Democratic ticket escorted her to the door, while the local Republican committeeman held it open with a big smile. No division here — Lillian, it appears, has broad bipartisan support.

Elegantly turned out for the day in red, white, and blue, Lillian entered the poll, bringing on greetings from election officials and voters alike. (Think the classic greeting of “Norm!” in the old “Cheers” sitcom and you get the picture.)

Lillian opted for the paper ballot over its electronic counterpart and sat down for the serious business of voting. It’s something she’s been proudly doing for years.

Interviewed a week before the election, Lillian confirmed she is a staunch Republican, but insisted she has never been a die-hard straight-ticket voter.

“I’m a registered Republican, but if I see a better man, I go for the man,” she said.

This fall, well, let’s just say she’s not keen on either major party nominee.

“I’m not excited about any of them this year.” she said a week out.

Lillian counts among her favorite presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and “Give ‘em Hell” Harry S Truman.

“I voted for Clinton,” she said. “I thought he was good. Those years were good for me.”

She has a fondness for the George Bushes, 41 and 43, as well.

During that interview, her daughter reminded Lillian that she also counts Abraham Lincoln at the top of her favorite commanders-in-chief.

“But I didn’t vote for him!” Lillian exclaimed.

Lincoln aside, Lillian, born in March 1917, has seen a lot of American history unfold in her nearly century of life.

Woodrow Wilson was president when she came into the world. She was only three years old when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution affirming a woman’s right to vote was ratified in August 1920. She doesn’t remember that specific time, but she has childhood recollections of family members discussing it.

Just shy of 100, she lives independently, drives her “little Ford” (she passed a recent driving test with flying colors!), and votes religiously. She also remains active in community and civic endeavors, including working the annual East Cocalico Lions Club dinner.

Lillian was born in the Red Run area and graduated from the former East Cocalico High School in 1935. She did office work most of her life, employed at Stacey’s Silk Mill, the Bollman Hat Co., International Harvester, and for four different state representatives. She was married to her husband Clayton for 62 years prior to his passing.

She cast her first presidential ballot for Truman. Since then, she has voted in every primary and general election.

Rita Garner, an election worker for the past decade at the Stevens poll, said Lillian is the site’s most senior voter.

“We always joke: ‘Here comes our oldest voter’,” she said affectionately. “For someone to be so committed…it’s wonderful.”

Lillian has no patience for those who don’t vote.

“And then they want to gripe about it…,” she said, waving her hand in dismay. “Go out and vote. Don’t go home and gloat.”

Judy said her mom has long been a role model for her and that they enjoy talking politics before every election.

In fact, in her younger days, Lillian enjoyed roasting politicians with her Halloween customers. She shared one with the Review. In 1972, the year of the Nixon-McGovern race, dressed as a man, she seated herself on a chamber pot holding a sign declaring: “The only man in politics who knows what he is doing.”

She clearly wasn’t enchanted with either candidate that year. She did, however, almost meet Richard Nixon when he was on a campaign swing through Lancaster in 1960.

Given the opportunity to sit down with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the table, what would she advise?

“I would tell them they should behave, that running to be president is a privilege,” she said. Lillian does, however, believe both candidates love their country and want to do the right thing.

When she votes, Lillian takes into consideration each candidate’s character, words, and actions.

“I want show and not all the blow,” she said a week before the election. “I search them out and if I think they can do good for the country, I’ll go for them.”

Back at the polls Tuesday, Lillian, voter No. 180 at 9 a.m., handed her completed ballot over to Kristine Graybill, the judge of elections.

The judge’s face lit up with a big smile as she briefly chatted with Lillian, the celebrity voter of the day.

“”Wow, we’re just very honored she comes here and we’re excited for showing many generations her faithfulness.”

Lillian, for her part, was pleased with the turnout for this presidential election.

“Let the best man win,” she said. “Or woman.”

And, based on some personal exit polling, it seems Republican Lillian Frankhouser has Hillary Clinton’s back.

“I changed my position this time,” she said. “This time I voted for Hillary. All the things I saw on TV, I just couldn’t vote for Trump.”

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One Comment

  1. Fred Stauffer

    November 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve known Lillian for many years. I am very happy to see that she remains healthy, energetic and involved in life! Best wishes to you, Lillian!

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