Anetta L. Brenneman, 18, student, saved Frank P. Demeck, 20, plumber’s apprentice, from drowning, Lake Sheridan, Pennsylvania, August 26, 1929. Demeck dived from a pier in Lake Sheridan, was unable to reach the surface, and collapsed in water 20 feet deep at a point 25 feet from the end of the pier. Miss Brenneman, who was not robust and who was fully clothed, dived from the pier and reached Demeck six feet below the surface. She brought Demeck, who was quite heavy, to the surface and swam with great effort 25 feet to the pier. Demeck was unconscious but was revived. Miss Brenneman suffered from nervousness for 10 days.
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Anetta Brenneman Staffon, 89, of Wilton, Maine, died June 24, 2001. Born in Nicholson Township, Pa., on Sept. 15, 1911, she grew up with her two sisters, who with her would form the “three sisters” found in several of the paintings she did during her lifetime.
Staffon and her sisters spent summers on Lake Sheridan in Pennsylvania, where their parents owned a post office and boarding house. In 1929, she made headlines when she rescued a man from drowning in the lake. Two years later, through the actions of the summer cottagers association and the Scranton Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission learned of her feat and awarded her the Carnegie Medal and $1,600, which allowed her to attend Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh) and to realize her dream of studying art and design.
While at Carnegie Tech, she received several design awards, including a winning coffee pot that was produced for 15 or 20 years. She also formed a singing trio and met her future husband while on tour with his orchestra. After a career as a high school art teacher, Staffon retired and moved to Wilton, where she fulfilled another dream, living on a lake where the restful sound of the waves, the beauty of the mountains, and the gorgeous Maine scenery inspired much of her later artwork.
(Edited from the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, July 4, 2001.)