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She hasn't missed a Sunday in 59 years
Member of St. Matthias United Methodist Church hasn't missed Sunday school for 59 years

 Mary Lou Pitzer helps teach the children's choir at St. Matthias United Methodist Church in Stafford County. Pitzer, 70, is also a Sunday school teacher. She's been at church every Sunday for 59 years, without fail.
photos by PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 9/29/2012

By CATHY DYSON

Mary Lou Pitzer hasn't missed a day of Sunday school for 59 years.

She was named the international poster girl for Sunday school attendance in 2005 by the United Methodist News Service, when she had only 52 years under her belt.

A video about her called her the "Sunday school superstar." But it seems that Pitzer brings that kind of energy to every thing she does.

"She's like a turbo rocket," said Sheri Pierce, a Stafford High School teacher with Pitzer, who taught for 42 years and supposedly retired six years ago.

Yet, Pitzer still tutors math students in her home and teaches English to middle-school students twice a week.

At Stafford High, she continues to help with the end-of-year awards programs. She washes and irons table skirts, orders awards and flowers and types names on certificates.

"There's little jobs that she's just always done, and she enjoys doing, and I enjoy her doing it," said Pierce, the senior-class sponsor. "I find her very valuable."

Pitzer shows the same dedication to St. Matthias United Methodist Church off Deacon Road in Stafford. She's Sunday school superintendent, treasurer and the incoming mission chairperson. She sings in the choir, helps lead the children's group of singers and is the Vacation Bible School cook.

Pitzer also organizes the annual event to get bicycles, helmets and coats for needy children.

"She never stops," said Chris Embrey, the administrative assistant at church. "She really has a heart for what she does, and she really enjoys helping children."

Fellow church member Margaret Ann Holt suggested a story about Pitzer because it would be "a great encouragement to others in what just one person can accomplish."

Pitzer, who smiles easily and often, says she's blessed in more ways than she can name. When she visits friends in nursing homes--and she's made a lot of trips lately--she's grateful that she's active and healthy.

She's 70 and doesn't take medicine of any kind, only vitamins.

She said that not missing a day of Sunday school in almost six decades--unless the weather was so bad, the service was canceled--is the least she can do.

"God's blessed my life, and I can certainly give back an hour of my time to him," she said.


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Mary Lou Pitzer wears pink running shoes when she's out and about, doing church tasks or visiting friends.

Her husband, Gene, walks about six miles a day and she joins him for an evening walk. She also takes exercise classes at St. Matthias United Methodist Church, where she lifts weights and walks. She does water aerobics twice a week.

One day this summer, she and her aerobics class went to the Massad YMCA Water Park while the pool they usually use was being cleaned. Some in the group looked at the water slides and said, "Look, we're 70, we can't do that."

Not Mary Lou Pitzer. "Our grandchildren said we were acting like teenagers."