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110 years young

As Minnesota’s oldest citizen, Ruth Anderson has just about seen it all. On Friday, she’ll celebrate her 110th birthday.

July 23, 2009
By Karin Elton

It's one thing to be the oldest person in the room. It's quite another to be the oldest in the state. Ruth Anderson of Marshall turns 110 Friday, the oldest person in Minnesota, Avera Marshall officials said.

She was born July 24, 1899. That's a span of three centuries - 19th, 20th and 21st.

She said she feels pretty good and, no, she doesn't feel 110 years old.

Article Photos

Photo by Karin Elton

One hundred years separate Ruth Anderson from her great-granddaughter, Alethia Olson, 9, who visited her this week from East Moline, Ill.

"She hasn't aged since she moved here five years ago," said Colleen Wreath, LPN, who is one of Ruth's caregivers at Avera Morningside Heights Care Center.

Joyce Anderson of Ruthton, Anderson's daughter-in-law, is one of her regular visitors. She said Ruth is one of the more active residents.

"If there's an activity, she goes," said Joyce Anderson. "She plays Scrabble every Thursday morning. Someone from the Marshall community comes in and plays with her."

Among other activities Ruth Anderson takes part in is painting. She has two of her works framed on her walls.

When she was in her early 100s, she still quilted and had a second bedroom as her quilting room at Boulder Estates.

"She's made quilts for all the grandchildren," said Joyce Anderson.

In her earlier years, Ruth Anderson was a "good seamstress," said Joyce. "She sewed all her clothes. (Her husband) George used to say she was going to wear out the sewing machine."

Wreath said Ruth Anderson enjoys reading.

"She does her daily scripture reading," said Wreath.

"Once a day at least," said Ruth Anderson. "Whenever I feel like it."

"Ruth is a delightful person," said Dodie DeRynck, vice president for resident care services. "She's fun to take care of, easy to take care of."

"She takes the least amount of pills of anyone," said Wreath.

"She's only been in the hospital once in five years and that was for pneumonia," said DeRynck.

Ruth Anderson is originally from the Balaton area. She married her sister's widower, George Anderson, when she was 60 and moved to his farm in the Ruthton area and helped raise his four sons.

She said it wasn't any problem cooking for a large family and a large extended family. Joyce said cousins from Balaton used to come to the Ruthton farm after church for dinner.

"It was a stopping-off place," Joyce Anderson said. "They would play softball."

Joyce Anderson said longevity doesn't necessarily run in Ruth's family. The youngest brother died when he was 86 or 87 and other siblings were in their 40s and 50s when they died. Ruth was a twin as a baby. Her twin brother died when he was 13 months old. Her parents died in their 70s.

Ruth Anderson has her confirmation certificate framed on the wall over her bed along with her graduation certificate from Balaton Public School.

The confirmation certificate is in Swedish, a language Ruth Anderson can speak.

"She could read the small writing in Swedish," said 9-year-old Alethia Olson of her great-grandmother. Olson is Joyce's granddaughter and is visiting from East Moline, Ill., for a good part of the summer.

The church where Ruth Anderson was confirmed was then known as Svenska Evangelical Lutheran Sillerud. Ruth Elizabeth Peterson was confirmed in May of 1914. She graduated from Balaton Public School in 1917. She didn't attend high school, because there wasn't a high school in Balaton at that time.

Olson said her great-grandmother has had a lot of birthday cakes over the years. Ruth Anderson said she doesn't remember if she had birthday cakes for all of her birthdays, "just the later years."

The nursing home is having a big party Friday and will release 110 balloons in Ruth Anderson's honor. Then the family will have an open house party Saturday and another one Sunday at Joyce's.

U.S Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-Minn., and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., have sent birthday cards to Anderson.

 
 

 

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