A 91-year-old Pennsylvania woman who grew up an only child and once planned to enter a convent now has enough descendants to fill a convent, and then some.
Peggy Koller, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, counts among her direct relatives 11 children, 56 grandchildren and 59 great-grandchildren, with five more on the way.
“I have two graduations coming up. I had another one from Villanova last week. Last Saturday, I had a wedding in North Jersey and on Sunday my daughter gave a shower for her daughter-in-law,” Koller told ABC News of her busy schedule. “That’s the way it goes.”
Koller, whose husband, William Koller, died in 2008, still lives in her own home in a retirement community and still can drive herself, though her family is always picking her up for activities.
“She knows everything,” one of Koller’s granddaughters, Lauren Naldzin, told ABC News. “When we see her we’re always saying, ‘Granmom, what’s new? What’s the scoop,’ because she gets around to all the families.”
“She’s fun to be around,” Naldzin added. “We always want to bring her to things and she wants to be part of things.”
All 11 of Koller’s children are still living and all but one still live in the Philadelphia area, where they were born and raised.
“She hosts Christmas Eve every year for the whole family,” said Naldzin, 32, whose mother is one of Koller’s daughters and whose three children are among Koller’s 59 great-grandchildren.
“She’s the type of person who, even at 91, if you asked her, ‘Granmom, will you help me with this?’ or, ‘Can you do this?,’ she will,” Naldzin said.
Koller wanted to have 12 children after growing up lonely as an only child, but fell one short, she said. She also, happily now, abandoned her plans to join a convent after falling in love with her husband and marrying him in 1942.
The two started a funeral home, Koller Funeral Home, that is now run by one of their sons and one of their daughters.
“She is definitely an inspiration,” Naldzin said. “She was working while running the family and she was an only child who created this family with my grandfather.”
Koller is still learning from her grandchildren how to text and email, according to Naldzin, but does have her own iPhone and is the family directory when it comes to knowing everyone’s cell phone numbers.
She relies on her daughters to help her each year gather the cards and checks necessary to celebrate each family member’s birthday.
“Someone calculated that we think the cards alone cost about $600,” Koller said.
When not attending family events, Koller said she exercises for an hour each day, with strength exercises followed by time on a stationary bike.
“The exercising, I think, is the thing that has kept me going,” she said. “I’ve exercised my whole lifetime.”
Koller also attributes her longevity – and the fact that her family has all stayed so close, both physically and emotionally – to her and her late husband’s faith.
“My husband and I always had a lot of faith in God, and I think that just helped because we figured we were doing the will of God and he would look out for us, and he did,” she said. “It’s like [there were] little miracles all throughout my life and big ones, too.”
Koller’s granddaughter said the only thing her family has to be worried about is making sure they get on Koller’s busy calendar.
“It’s like as soon as you have a date, as soon as graduation day is published on the school website, you tell her,” said Naldzin. “Last year, there were two family weddings on the same day and we got her to both of them.”