Above / Laura Rott and her younger sister Rita Lisson reminisce with fond memories of a lifetime together in Naperville. On July 25, 2018, Laura Rott joins a group of more than 72,000 individuals in the United States who are age 100 and older.
Laura Rott was born the same year as advice columnist Ann Landers and dancer-actress Rita Hayworth. Daylight Saving Time was enacted that year. And Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States.
The year was 1918. Naperville’s population was 5,917, boosting the farming community to gain recognition as the largest city in DuPage County. And Illinois was celebrating its first 100 years.
The lifelong Napervillian grew up on the Rott Family Farm (South of 75th Street where Meadow Glens Elementary School is now), explained her niece, Marianne Lisson Kuhn. After graduating from Naperville High School in 1937, Laura later went to work at Kroehler Manufacturing Co., back when the world-renown furniture manufacturing company on Fifth Avenue was the “financial backbone” of Naperville. She sewed upholstery covers for 37 years until she retired.
A painting of her childhood home they called “Roselawn” graces the wall in her living room where Laura recently welcomed our visit and our best wishes as she prepared to celebrate her 100th birthday—again.
The third child of 10 children to Anne and Harold Rott was joined Monday by her sister, Rita Lisson, five years her junior, during one of the get-togethers planned to celebrate her 100th birthday this week. With vision and hearing challenges, Laura appreciated her sister’s tender loving care as she read the greetings inside a stack of birthday cards from family and friends. One card came from Bob Raymond all the way from Mississippi. Another card addressed to “Great-Great-Aunt Laura” included colorful images from Samuel.
A member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Laura is looking forward to a special mass planned on her birthday, July 25, an occasion often referred to as “Christmas in July” by her nieces and nephews who always have considered time with Aunt Laura as a gift.
“Every kid should have an aunt like Aunt Laura,” said Rita Lisson, as she reminisced about the good times her four children—Gary, David, Marianne and Debbie—enjoyed with their aunt.
Reminiscing about the Pillsbury BAKE-OFF
Back in 1949, Laura Rott was one of 100 finalists chosen from tens of thousands of entrants in the first-ever Pillsbury BAKE-OFF, held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Eleanor Roosevelt was present that year and in her “My Day” column dated Dec. 15, 1949, the former First Lady wrote about the tense, moving and happy moments she observed during the competition with “a very healthy human touch,” after which every contestant took home a General Electric stove.
“Then came the announcement of the second prize—$10,000,” wrote Roosevelt. “That went to one of the few unmarried contestants, Miss Laura Rott, of Naperville, Ill. Her entry was ‘Mint Surprise Cookies.’ I was assured by those who sampled them as they came out of the oven that (even) though they might look like ordinary cookies, they tasted like your dream of something highly delectable. Miss Rott was speechless. She could hardly stand up and she had no idea what she would do with the money. She never thought of having so much money at one time in her hand.”
Celebration begins at Rott Family Reunion in June
For more than 60 years, the descendants of Anne and Harold Rott have been gathering together with love and gratitude to share a summer day. This year on a Sunday afternoon in June, the large family met for a picnic at Springbrook Forest Preserve off 83rd Street where the great outdoors offered all generations a chance to mix, mingle and reminisce while playing games or simply hanging out in a pavilion.
Casual family reunions give everyone time to reconnect and focus on the truly important things in life that often are taken for granted. For 2018, Laura Rott’s 100th birthday drew extra special attention with balloons and party hats.
One of her great-nieces even baked her prize-winning cookie recipe for the family reunion.
Happy 100th Birthday, Laura Rott!
Monday afternoon, as Laura opened one birthday card after the other, the grateful and faithful woman said, “I appreciate all the well wishes and birthday cards. I’m humbled by all the people who remembered me and others who remembered my recipe. …If I could, I’d write everybody back.”
When asked what she wishes for her 100th birthday, she replied, “I wish for most everybody to be nice and kind. I love you all.”
Then Laura looked at her sister, Rita, paused, and added, “I never thought I’d live to be 100… ”
“The other day she said the same thing,” said Rita Lisson, mindful of her sister’s fun-loving nature. “And then she told me, ‘But you don’t have to rub it in.’”
(PN Photos from Rott Family Reunion, June 24, 2018 / Birthday wishes, July 23, 2018)
Editor’s Update & Notes / This page with happy birthday wishes to Laura Rott is receiving attention online.
The Aurora Township office called on behalf of Peter Paul Schmidt, age 90, who grew up knowing the Rott family and all 10 children. He, too, extends a “Happy 100th Birthday” to his longtime acquaintance, Laura Rott, with fond memories of her and her siblings.
FYI: The August issue of PN includes an abbreviated story about centenarian Laura Rott and her participation in the first Pillsbury BAKE OFF. Note also that after news hit the internet that Rott had come in second in the Pillsbury’s inaugural baking contest, her niece Debbie Keating mentioned Rott was contacted by Pillsbury with an opportunity to meet the Pillsbury Doughboy!