Every Friday during the Lenten season – which begins today, Ash Wednesday – the volunteers at Holy Trinity National Catholic Church fish fry dash around the kitchen, frying and cooking sandwiches, cabbage and sauerkraut, pierogies and french fries.
And every week, parishioner Ted Sikora, who celebrates his 94th birthday today, shows up, ready to deliver lunch orders.
Sikora might be the most popular delivery man in Washington County.
Customers enjoy it when Sikora cheerily arrives, carrying brown bags filled with fish, and spends a few minutes chatting.
“He’s never met a stranger. People are amazed by the fact that he’s 94,” said Sikora’s son, Tom, who helps coordinate the parish fish fry. “He loves talking to people.”
Sikora said he’s cut back the amount of deliveries he makes to four or five on Fridays, but he enjoys making his rounds.
“I like to be active around the church and help around the fish fry,” said Sikora, who served as an altar boy at the church for more than a decade as he was growing up.
He shows no signs of slowing down. Sikora gets up at about 7 a.m. every morning and hits the gym, exercising for about two hours at the Cameron Wellness Center. Three times a week, he takes Zumba classes and he swims daily.
Sikora lives on his own, in the house that he built in Washington in 1949 (“I did everything but the plaster and the furnace; I nailed every board, laid every brick, and I’m proud of it,” he said) and he plants a garden every spring.
He’s fit and healthy, and the only concession he’s made to getting older is wearing a pair of hearing aids. And he also enjoys indulging in cookies.
Sikora is also one of the most optimistic and happy men you’re likely to meet.
“I’m very happy with the life I led, and not may people can live a long life and be so happy,” he said.
He and his wife, Mildred, were married for 61 years before she passed away in 2007, and Sikora credits her for much of his happiness.
The two met at Washington Park, where Sikora had gone to listen to an orchestra. He thought she was pretty, so he asked her to dance.
“The next thing you know, we were getting married. I had a very happy marriage,” said Sikora. “My wife and I raised four kids and we had a happy time doing it. She had a tough time at the end and I took care of her for the past several years, but I owed it to her. She was quite a wife and we had a great marriage.”
Sikora worked as a machinist for the Pennsylvania Transformer and served as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.
Sikora’s mother lived to be 103, and he currently holds the title as the oldest parishioner.
He attends mass every Sunday, and then hosts a brunch at his house.
And, of course, looks forward to the fish fries.
“I’ll keep on doing that for a long time,” said Sikora. “It’s been a bright life. I love my family and my friends. I have a lot of friends, and that makes me feel great.”