Butcher Neil Coulter Was 108

Posted: August 23, 1988

Neil Coulter, whose longevity was attributed to his ability not to worry, died Sunday at the age of 108.

Coulter, of Upper Darby, Delaware County, was raised on a farm near Milford, Del., and came to Philadelphia when he was about 15. He found work in neighborhood grocery stores on Woodland Avenue and eventually became a skilled butcher.

His son, Richard Coulter, said that in his father's day, before the unions got organized, 72-hour work weeks were common and necessary to make a living wage. At one point, he made trips to Europe with herds of cattle, which he would help slaughter after arrival.

In his prime, the 5-foot-4 Coulter never weighed more than 115 pounds. But he always did more than his share of work.

Coulter didn't retire until 1978. For more than 30 years he worked as a butcher for the Penn Fruit Co. at its Upper Darby store. He was driving his own car into his 80s and lived on his own until he was 100, when he went to live with his son.

"He was a home and family man," said Richard. "He wasn't a man for lodges or organizations. I remember the old man coming in, he never had time to do anything but keep the family going."

Richard Coulter said the only evidence his father had of his age was a notation in the family Bible. Birth certificates were a luxury on the farm in those days.

How did he live so long?

It couldn't be his diet, observed his son. He ate red meat every day of his life. Often part of his pay as a butcher was in meat. He also ate a couple of eggs every day.

To relax he had a couple of cigars and maybe a shot or two of whiskey.

"Dad always said to me to his dying day, 'Don't worry about a thing,' "

recalled Richard. "The old man never worried about nothing. You could light a bomb under him, and his blood pressure wouldn't even go up . . . The one thing that prolonged his life was, he was not a worrier. The house could fall apart."

Richard said his mother, the former Mary E. Bunn, was the "queen bee" organizer, check-writer, churchgoer, etc. Dad also let her handle the disciplining of young Richard.

He was a religious man, said his son. "Dad prayed all the time, asking the Lord to take care of him and his family." He went to church, or, more accurately, accompanied his wife to church.

She usually kept him alert with a nudge or a kick. "He couldn't care less about being an elder or trustee. It didn't bother him," said Richard, whose mother died in 1974.

Coulter was a member of the Beverly Hills United Presbyterian Church in Upper Darby and had previously belonged to St. Paul's United Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

In addition to his son, he is survived by a granddaughter and two great- grandsons.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Frank C. Videon Funeral Home, Sproul and Lawrence roads, Broomall, where friends may call one hour earlier. Burial will be in Arlington Cemetery, School Lane and Lansdowne Avenue, Drexel Hill.

GLADYS M. RAY

Gladys M. Ray, the former Gladys Amos, died Friday. She was 65 and lived in South Philadelphia.

Ray was a member of St. Monica's Roman Catholic Church.

She is survived by her husband, Charles E. Ray; two sons, George and Charles Jr.; two daughters, Gladys Ray and Janice Serano; and seven grandchildren.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Monica's Church, 17th and Ritner streets. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, Baily Road and Wycombe Avenue, Yeadon, Delaware County.

Friends may call between 7 and 9 tonight at the Ruffenach Funeral Home, 21st Street and Snyder Avenue.

BRUCE W. WOHLRAB

Bruce W. Wohlrab, a high school teacher and coach in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., died of natural causes yesterday. He was 40 and lived in Absecon, N.J.

Wohlrab had been a science and biology teacher at Egg Harbor Township High School for the past three years. He was an assistant varsity football coach and head coach for girls' softball, and he coached girls' tennis.

A teacher for 17 years, he had previously taught at Absegami High School and Oakcrest High School. Born in Camden and raised in Gibbstown, Gloucester County, he was a former Eagle Scout and was graduated from Paulsboro High School. He received his degree from Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pa.

He was a member of the Juvenile Conference Committee of Egg Harbor Township and the Oceanville Methodist Church.

Survivors include his wife, the former Cynthia Gingrich; two sons, Aaron Michael and Matthew Allen; and a brother, Ronald Wohlrab.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Wimberg Funeral Home, 400 Liverpool Ave., Egg Harbor City, where friends may call between 7 and 9 p.m. tomorrow. Burial will be in Laurel Memorial Park, Pomona, N.J.

Contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society.

ROBERT A. SLOAN

Robert A. Sloan, a retired engineer and manager for the Philadelphia Gas Works, died Saturday. He was 68 and lived in Havertown, Delaware County.

For most of the 36 years he worked for PGW, Sloan was a utilization engineer. For the last two years he was at the company he was assistant manager of the customer service division.

A 1937 graduate of Upper Darby High School, Sloan received bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Havertown, where he sang in the choir and served on a number of committees. He was a past president of the church board of trustees. Sloan was a Mason and a member of the Optimist Club of Havertown.

Survivors include his wife, the former Shirley Stoops; two sons, the Rev. Robert A. Jr. and William A. II; a daughter, Robin Sloan; and two grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Trinity United Methodist Church, Eagle Road and Maryland Avenue, Havertown. Burial will be in Arlington Cemetery, School Lane and Lansdowne Avenue, Drexel Hill.

Friends may call between 7 and 9 tonight at the Frank C. Videon Funeral Home, Sproul and Lawrence roads, Broomall.

Contributions may be made to the church.

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