It was in the spring of 1951 that Betty Eyler found herself living briefly in Panama where her husband, the late Owen Eyler, was deployed to help train the US Army’s reserves for the Korean War.
It was the last time she missed an election.
“I was back in time to take the fall,” said Eyler, who turns 92 in January.
Eyler has worked in the polls every year since she was 21, first briefly as a poll observer for her political party and for more than six decades as an election inspector in the Township of Lewis , in Union County, which is an elected office.
Tuesday’s general election was Eyler’s last as an elected official. She is retiring.
“I have a good board. They are all great people. We work very well together. You have to have teamwork to do it. To my knowledge, I don’t think we’ve ever had a mistake, ”Eyler said from inside the polling station at the Lewis Township Municipal Building.
Eyler worked for 47 years in what was then the Groover and Lobos law firm in Mifflinburg. She is still working, and not just in the elections. She is the weekend tasting hostess for the Juniata Valley Winery at The Point Barn in Danville.
“She is busy mowing her lawn and doing her gardening,” said her niece, Linda Buttorff. “He’s a very kind, loving soul. She’s just one of those people you want to be with.
Eyler found herself around the election because of her father, the late George A. Englehart. He appointed her to monitor the polls for the first two or three years, she recalls. Over time, he encouraged her to get elected herself and she accepted.
Englehart was a jury commissioner in Union County when Eyler began working on the elections. Upon her death in 1972, her mother, the late Beatrice L. Englehart, was appointed to this position and was elected to this position for numerous other terms.
The switch to digital voting was the biggest change in Eyler’s 70 years at the polls, she said.
“I’m not on the cutting edge of electronics,” Eyler said with a smile. “We all sat down like we do now. It was a ballot paper. Someone shouted out the name of whoever got the vote. We would put it on a piece of paper and number it one, two, three, four, five. This is how we counted the votes.
Marge Schmader is an Election Judge in the Township of Lewis. She can’t remember how many terms she served; assuming she was in the role for up to 20 years. It is also his last election to the board of directors.
Schmader said she started out as a volunteer and eventually sought to be elected to the post of election judge. She worked with Eyler the whole time.
“She’s so reliable. She never says no. She does all my papers for me. We love having it, ”Schmader said.
“I liked it. You got to see everyone who came to vote. Everyone knew everyone. You just walked in, you did your job,” Eyler said.