One of eight children of Lebanese immigrants who settled in central Pennsylvania, Sarah Nader lived the longest – 107 years, to be exact. Her life was one of laughter, fulfillment, and patriotism, having served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II and rising to the rank of first sergeant.
“She said to me once, ‘I’m glad I served, because there haven’t been any other wars,’” said niece Georgette Hamaty. “She was losing her memory at the time, but that’s what she remembered, that she had a high level of patriotism as a child of immigrants.
“She had said that when she decided to go into the Army, her mother was not happy. She was really quite upset. But that was a different era. ... I think she felt it was her duty.”
Mrs. Nader, who served with the WAC from September 1943 to December 1945, died Friday, May 1 – one week before her 108th birthday – at Granite Farms Estates in Media from complications related to the coronavirus. She originally was from Houtzdale, Clearfield County.
After attending the WAC Administration School at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Mrs. Nader handled training and administration for 300 members of the corps, and also was a first sergeant of a medical company at a general hospital. After the war, she spent 20 years with the federal Defense Supply Agency in Philadelphia before retiring in 1969.
Mrs. Nader was less than 5 feet tall, but her good nature and spirit were larger than life.
“My aunt was a little-bitty thing, but she had a big presence, a big laugh, a big personality,” her niece said. “She had a very infectious smile. She was a very avid walker. She had a discipline about her. Even when she turned everything over to me to deal with her finances and her health, everything was incredibly organized."
A devoted Phillies fan, Mrs. Nader and her husband, Bill, who died in 1987, lived for a time in South Philadelphia, where they owned a haberdashery, and later moved to Concordville. They loved to bowl together and were involved in their church.
Her niece said she thought Mrs. Nader was athletic, and had photos of her playing baseball, ice skating, riding a bicycle, and holding either a tennis or badminton racket. She said that when her aunt moved to Granite Farms Estates, an assisted-living facility, she excelled at ping-pong even into her 90s.
“People in our own family, even some of the men, couldn’t beat her,” she said. “She was like a killer with the paddle. She was somewhat of a firecracker personality, feisty but good and loving. There was really nothing about her that wasn’t kind of loving.”
In addition to her niece, Mrs. Nader is survived by many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, great-great-nieces, and great-great-nephews.