Photo by Deb McAuliffe Sprong, Times-Union
Maxine Leininger (L) and Gerry Warner sit together in Gerry’s apartment at Grace Village. The women, who both turn 100 in July, have been friends since their days at Beaver Dam School.
Photo by Deb McAuliffe Sprong, Times-Union Maxine Leininger (L) and Gerry Warner sit together in Gerry’s apartment at Grace Village. The women, who both turn 100 in July, have been friends since their days at Beaver Dam School.

When you say that Geraldine Warner and Maxine Leininger are BFFs, you’re not kidding.

The Grace Village residents have been best friends since they met at Beaver Dam School.

In 1925.

Gerry and Maxine will both celebrate their 100th birthdays next month — Gerry on July 1 and Maxine on July 20.

Geraldine Tucker met Maxine Royer in second grade when Maxine transferred to the Beaver Dam School from Sevastopol. This began a lifetime of sharing adventures.

When they were 12, they took a trip out west, spending three weeks on a train. “A wonderful trip,” Maxine says.

Gerry remembers a bus waiting for them to take them to Yellowstone National Park, where they saw Old Faithful, and Glacier National Park, among other destinations.

The journey itself was its own adventure for young Gerry and Maxine.

“We slept on the train, ate on the train,” Maxine recalls, and became friends with the porter, who was the first “colored man” they had ever seen. He made drinks for them and told them stories.

“We just cried when we had to leave him,” Gerry said.

Excitement closer to home might involve a buggy trip to Talma to get ice cream cones or to spend the night with a friend.

After graduation, college beckoned to Gerry, but not Maxine — at first. “I wasn’t even planning on going to college, but she talked me into it,” Maxine said.

“Well, I needed you,” Gerry said.

The friends roomed together at Manchester College.

“We got along great,” Maxine said. “I think we laughed all the time.”

“I don’t think we every fought,” Gerry added.

Gerry graduated after two years and became an elementary teacher, and Maxine stayed four years and went on to teach home economics, music and physical education. But their careers were short-lived.

“I lost my job when I got married,” Gerry said, adding later, “if you got married, you couldn’t teach.”

Gerry got married at Christmas in 1940 to Rex Parker, who died when he was 59. She married Arden Warner in 1979, and he died in 2014 at the age of 96.





Maxine taught for one year at Talma, then she was married in 1941. Her marriage to Kermit Leininger, who died in 2011, lasted nearly 70 years.

Maxine moved to Fort Wayne for Kermit’s job as a teacher, but the two friends were in contact for the “special times” such as Christmas and birthdays, and stayed in touch over the years until they reunited at Grace Village a few years ago.

Gerry has an apartment in assisted living, while Maxine’s apartment is in independent living. She was still driving until recently, when “my son said, ‘I’m coming to get your car.’”

It’s easy to see how close the two women are. They finish each other’s sentences, and often begin laughing together at a shared memory.

“I think we’ve laughed most of our life,” Maxine said, pointing to Gerry. “She’s funny.”

And they both laugh.