The Ageless Remarkable Erieite Award
The Ageless Remarkable Erieite Awards are given to seniors, 75 or older, who are still active in the community and who are doing remarkable things. Recipients have an inspiring zest for life while sharing their gifts and talents in selfless service to others. Below are the 2023 Award Recipients as well as a list of all those who have been previously honored.
Mary Jane Phillips Koenig
Mary Jane Phillips Koenig is a dedicated supporter and volunteer of many groups and clubs. As a retired teacher, she takes the term “lifelong learner” to the next level. Mary Jane has been integral to the Tall Ships Erie Festival, Hooked on Books for Kids, the French Creek Valley Button Club, German Cultural Society of Erie, World War One Centennial Committee, Erie County Veterans Memorial Park, Women’s Club of Erie, and Presque Isle Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution – to name a few. Even in retirement, Mary Jane finds ways to share her love of history and to teach others about the importance of preserving history in its entirety. In every organization, she plays an important role, whether in leadership, benevolence, speaking engagements, co-authoring a book, or bringing awareness to the cause. As of recently, she has even been trained on how to clean gravestones and has found a passion for cleaning the gravestones of veterans. Mary Jane is a compassionate role model, a champion of history, and a self-described “passionate joiner” who can’t say no to a challenge.
Richard and Diane Quien
Ages 79 & 76
Richard and Diane Quien are a duo whose faith shines through their volunteer efforts, both in the Erie area and beyond. The Quien’s have volunteered in ways big and small supporting local soup kitchens, serving in various roles in their Church, knitting and donating sweaters for those in need, and cleaning up litter and trash along Pittsburgh Avenue. Much of their time and impact, however, comes from their 30 plus years of involvement with Koinonia of Erie County and the Kairos Prison Ministry program, a faith-based ecumenical ministry which addresses the spiritual needs of incarcerated men, women, youth, and their families. Rich has served on over 100 weekend retreats in eight different prisons across our tri-state area and Diane has served on over 60 retreats herself across 10 prisons in four states. They respond to their call to serve by serving others with dignity, love, and respect. Together they have a positive impact on the Erie community, and although they describe themselves as “common, regular old folks” they demonstrate through selfless action the great power of caring for all people and sharing their lives in service to others.
William G. DeWitt
Age 86, posthumous award
William G. DeWitt, who passed away on June 24, 2023, was the epitome of a warm, kind, and generous human. Community involvement was central in Bill’s life, his career, and well into retirement. Bill shared his financial expertise, his generosity, and his time with many local agencies. He volunteered on countless financial committees for Erie area organizations including St. Vincent Health Center, United Way of Erie County, Wayside Presbyterian Church, and Presbytery of Lake Erie. For 28 years, Bill served on the Board of Directors for Sarah A. Reed Children’s Center, posing as Treasurer and Chairman. For 6 years, he also served on the board of Asbury Nature Center (now known as Asbury Woods). And for the past decade, Bill actively served as a board member for Erie Homes for Children and Adults. Bill was known as a passionate advocate for the groups he served and was described as a “dream” board member, always asking the “What if?” questions. Before his death, when asked to reflect on being an Ageless Remarkable Erieite, he shared a piece of wisdom from Rabindranath Tagore that inspired him. It reads: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy; I awoke and saw that life was service; I acted and behold, service was joy!” In every part of his life, Bill was ever-helping and ever-humble. His dedication and compassion was a blessing and a joy that impacted many.