Malibu church member May Weidmann turns 105

May Weidmann (right) is shown her daughter Barbara Bacon. Weidmann, a longtime member of St. Aiden's Espiscopal Church in Malibu, just celebrated her 105th birthday. Contributed Photo

Native of Essex, England, who came to the U.S. in 1946, recalls fond memories of her time here

May Weidmann has experienced a lot during her long life.

The Essex, England, native lived in London during the World War II blackouts — the covering of all windows and doors at night to prevent any light showing that might aid targeting efforts by German bombers. She remembers when 338,000 Allied soldiers were evacuated from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France during the war. 

“They commandeered all the ships and the boats to go and get the soldiers,” she said. “I was there. My uncle had an old motorboat — it didn’t go very fast — they took that.”

In 1946, Weidmann came to America after she married her husband, Charles “Chuck” Weidmann, who was a U.S. soldier. The two drove from Charles’ mother’s home in New Jersey to Hollywood to meet with his sister. They lived for a time in Central California before moving to Southern California. 

Some of May’s fondest memories are from her times in Malibu. 

“I love the beach there,” she said. “I love to walk along the beach and walk on the cliffs. I like Malibu very much.”

May’s husband, known affectionately as “Father Chuck” to parishioners, was a rector at St. Aiden’s Episcopal Church in Malibu from 1978 until his death from cancer in 1982. Members of St. Aiden’s, of which May is the oldest member, and her family celebrated her 105th birthday last month.

Weidmann, born May Fowler on May 17, 1918, doesn’t have much advice on how to live a long life. 

“Old age is not a lot of fun,” she said. “I’m very well for my age — that is what they tell me. I have the usual aches and pains.” 

Still the centenarian enjoyed celebrating her birthday with around 20 people, which included grandchildren and great-grandchildren at Crown and Anchor, a British restaurant and pub in Thousand Oaks. The group ate cake and British bites. 

“It was very nice having all that attention,” Weidmann noted. “I really enjoyed that.” 

Rev. Dr. Joyce Stickney, St. Aiden’s rector, said May is an inspiration to the church. 

“She is so deeply connected to the church and to her faith,” Stickney said. “She has a spark and twinkle in her eyes and a song in her voice and cares so deeply about those around her. Her expansive love and interest are not diminished at all by her many years but only increased.” 

Weidmann has lived at Atria Hillcrest, a senior living facility in Thousand Oaks for around three years, and attends services at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, which is nearby, as opposed to commuting through the canyon each Sunday to attend St. Aidan’s. However, she still has warm feelings for her Malibu church. Weidmann attended a dinner celebration held in the memory of Paul Elder, a church deacon, last month. She is excited to attend a June 25 service at St. Aidan’s, which will be led by John H. Taylor, the Bishop of Los Angeles in the Diocese of Los Angeles of the Episcopal Church.

“It is a beautiful church,” Weidmann noted. 

Weidmann began writing poetry in her 80s after experiencing meditation while practicing centering prayer with a St. Aidan’s group. Most of her writings were penned on greeting cards bestowed to friends and family. 

St. Aidan’s hosted a celebration for Weidmann in 2018 to celebrate her 100th birthday. As part of that celebration, the church composed a 25-page booklet of her work, “Faith & Flora: Poems, Prayers, and Meditations.” Some of the titles include “Blue Sunset,” “On Wings of Love,” “One Prayer…Many Prayers,” “Under the Spring Crescent Moon,” and “The White Rose.”

Weidmann still enjoys penning her musings and reading poetry. She also likes the outdoors and recalls her family having a garden in England and growing vegetables during WWII. Since moving to Atria Hillcrest, Weidmann has begun taking tai chi classes once a week. She laughed about one day recently walking into a class she wasn’t prepared for.

“I thought it was tai chi, but it was a boxing class,” Weidmann said. “It was very interesting, but I haven’t gone back yet.” 

Weidmann’s parents were Christopher and Amy Fowler. Christopher was in the ministry, so Weidmann and her three other siblings were raised in the Protestant church.

“I always enjoyed church,” Weidmann said. 

Weidmann began working as a clerk at a company in London when she was 15. She met her husband at a dancing and tea venue in the city. He initially told her he was 24 (she was 22) but he was actually 19. They married at a church in Essex. May’s mother, a woman raised in Britain’s Victorian Age, had never heard of the name “Chuck,” so she called May’s husband Charlie. 

Weidmann and her husband lived in Bishop in Central California before moving to Southern California. Chuck worked at a bank, then became a priest in the Episcopal Church. The couple lived in Oxnard and then moved to Malibu. Sometime after her husband’s death at age 62, Weidmann moved from Malibu to Oak Park. She lived there until moving to Aria Hillcrest. 

Weidmann has two children, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Weidmann is always part of St. Aidan’s family also. 

“May is a very much a part of every big celebration of the church,” Stickney said, “and we adore and thank God for her continued life with us.”