Friday, October 24, 2008

$50,000 Tribute to Nanny

By Mitch Fryer
Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Ford City woman who became a modern-day "Mary Poppins" for a Connecticut family for 13 years didn't have to use "a spoonful of sugar" to teach their two boys manners and respect, but she did help raise them "in a most delightful way."

"I did it like they were my own grandchildren," said nanny, Edna Garth, 82, now back home in Ford City living in retirement. "I didn't do too bad with my grandchildren and children. I just love children. I loved being their nanny."

Garth's efforts as a nanny for the family's sons Nicholas and Jacob earned her the appreciation of Mark and Lisa Krosse, who recently honored her by committing $50,000 to Penn State University to endow the Edna Garth Trustee Scholarship.

The Krosses, of Westport, Conn., are retired IBM executives. Neither is a Penn State alumnus or previous donor to the university.

The scholarship will support undergraduates in academic programs in the College of Health and Human Development. First preference for the award will go to graduates of Ford City High School, Garth's hometown.

The program has a unique matching component. The university matches 5 percent of the principal of each gift and combines the funds with income from the endowment to effectively double the financial impact of the scholarship. The matching funds become available as soon as the donors sign scholarship guidelines.

Recipients of the Edna Garth Trustee Scholarship will be determined by the College of Health and Human Development scholarship committee in coordination with Penn State's Office of Student Aid.

Mark Krosse said he selected the College of Health and Human Development for the endowment because of its strong programs in family studies and childhood development.

Garth has a strong connection to Penn State. Her son, Gregory, holds an associate's degree from Penn State New Kensington and a bachelor's degree from Penn State Harrisburg. He graduated from the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine as a medical doctor.

This past weekend, Garth's family and the Krosse family surprised her at a party in Ford City with the announcement of the Penn State scholarship that's established in her name. "I was so honored and proud," Garth said.

"Edna is one of the most wonderful caring people that Lisa and I have ever met," said Mark Krosse. "She has a natural ability with small children and we wanted to honor this special person in a very special way."

Garth recalled the time she took Nicholas and Jacob to an IHOP restaurant one weekend.

"I always let them order those great big waffles with the faces on," Garth said. "The lady at the counter said, 'The children have such nice manners. Are you their grandmother?' "I said no, I'm their nanny."

"After I paid the bill, Nicholas said, 'Come on, let's go, grandma.' I asked him why he did that? He said, 'Because you treat us like grandma.' They never called me nanny."

Garth said she would take the boys to the store and say to them, "If you touch one thing, you will never go back there again."

"They walked through the store like soldiers," she said.

Garth spent her days and nights taking the boys to places such as Scout meetings, soccer games, the beach, to catch the school bus and violin lessons.

"You are always moving," Garth said. "Everything they were in, I went to."

Garth said she is especially proud of Nicholas' Eagle Scout award and his attending American University as a freshman and having an internship with a congressman on Capitol Hill.

"I expect he will be president of the United States someday," she said.

Garth decided to try her hand as a nanny after the death of her husband.

"I had to get out of Ford City," she said. "My husband was well-known and every time I came out the door everyone looked so sad and I didn't want to be feeling down. I had to get away to feel better. I knew I could be a nanny."

Garth searched for a job as a nanny and in the early 1990s she went to work for the Krosse family who liked her resume of watching children.

"I felt just like family," Garth said. "They were excellent parents. I loved working for them. The boys were so good. God saw to it that I had a nice family to work for."

Mitch Fryer can be reached at or 724-543-1303, ext. 242.


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