Sr. Elizabeth Anderson
Anna Elizabeth Anderson, who was born the night of November 19, 1869 in Tarnevalla, Sweden, was a premature baby. Her father went to get the midwife but she was not home, so he went farther to find another woman to help. By the time he returned, her mother had lain for two hours after the three-pound baby was born. Elizabeth was wrapped in cotton and put in a box in a warm oven to help her survive. The next day she was taken to the parsonage to be baptized, because she was not expected to live. But live she did, until the age of 101!
After coming to this country, Sister Elizabeth joined the Luther League in Rockford, Illinois, and became a member of the visitation committee, visiting people who were sick, shut-in, or poor. During this time she realized the need for people to serve others. She read about the Immanuel Deaconess Institute in Omaha in a church paper and determined to go there. Entering the diaconate on September 19, 1899, she was invested the next year and consecrated on April 22, 1903.
Sister Elizabeth was one of the first parish deaconesses of the Augustana Church, serving in Ottumwa, Iowa, from 1902 to 1906. In 1907, she went to the Children’s Home in Andover, Illinois as housekeeper and was also in charge of the girls and smaller children, but she soon was asked to become superintendent. It was an eventful period in her life. On December 27, 1908, the home burned down. All the children were at a church program except one boy, who gave the alarm. Rented houses were used for the children until a new home could be built. There were also two epidemics, scarlet fever during which Sister Elizabeth lost her hearing and diphtheria when she became very ill.
In 1913, Sister Elizabeth returned to Immanuel Hospital, where for thirty years she was in charge of the kitchen. She made all the breads, cakes, pies, and other baked goods, and they were always baked before breakfast. It was said that the doctors came early for coffee and donuts when the word got around that she was making them. She “retired” in 1943, and then worked in the kitchen of the deaconess home. She broke a hip at age 79, but continued to help with baking until she broke the other hip at 89. She then helped with the dishes until she was 99! By the end of her life, she was completely deaf and partially sighted, but she still read with a magnifying glass. The first in the deaconess community to reach age 100, she died on June 8, 1971.