Ethel Larson is 100 years young and she has big plans for the coming year.  Here, she holds up a picture of herself taken 98 years ago.   GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Ethel Larson is 100 years young and she has big plans for the coming year. Here, she holds up a picture of herself taken 98 years ago. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Florence Wendorf’s big sister had a rockin’ good party earlier this month.
Florence is 98.
Her big sister, Ethel Larson, is now 100.
“I had an aunt that lived to 102,” said newly-minted centenarian Ethel, who pointed out her father’s sister seemingly set the bar for the extended family to live at least to their 100th birthday. Ethel celebrated reaching that milestone in Spring Valley on Wednesday, July 9, with family coming from across the nation to honor her.
She said her family held a party for her on Sunday, July 6, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, and that it was wonderful to welcome the people who wished her well.
“It was a nice gathering on Sunday,” she said. “I had friends and family here representing eight states – Florida, Connecticut, California, Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky and Louisiana – and cousins from Wisconsin came that I haven’t seen in 50 years. I figure there were about 91 people there. I was so happy.”
Larson admitted it was strange to wake up that morning and realize that it was, in fact, her 100th birthday. However, when she takes account of the people who exist because she was born on July 9, 1914, it does tend to make a little more sense because the impact of her existence is very apparent.
“It doesn’t seem like I’m 100,” Larson admitted.
She added, “I was raised on a farm, my dad had me out in the field doing work.”
She married Alvin Larson in Ostrander on March 17, 1935, and they raised six children – Roger, who lives in Lyle, Eileen Spring, who lives in Lake City, Janis Speer, who lives in Rochester, Karen Brusse, also in Rochester, the Rev. David Larson, who’s in Harmony, and Dianne Roberts, who lives in Florida.
“I tell people that we had four kids and an afterthought…the afterthought turned out to be twins,” she joked.
She also noted her neighbors, Vic and Mary Lee, “who were so good to us when we lived three blocks over.”
Larson knows the value of hard field work, working at the Stewartville nursing home for 25 years before she retired, and the excitement of celebrating 50 years of marriage, then their 70th anniversary before her husband died two months later.
For the past several years, Larson has been marking her birthdays in grand style, counting her blessings along with the candles on her birthday cakes.
The 100-years-young Larson, who appears to be just a day over 82, gets around her apartment at Hillside Homes well with the assistance of her walker, though she’d love to be able to leave it home and just walk where she’d like, but her doctor recommended that she keep it handy, just in case.
“I can get around without it. I’m not going to get a wheelchair,” she commented. She added she believes that once people sit down, that might be the end of walking to get where they’d like to go.
She did sell her car in 2007, when she was 93, because she felt it just might be time to give up the wheel. Almost.
“I really feel fortunate to have my mind, and I enjoy riding my scooter. I bought that when I sold the car, and I love to ride it in the Ag Days parade,” she said.
Although she is now past the century mark, Larson still has many aspirations for the coming days and years, few of them involve sitting down.
“I just love bingo, I used to play cards and I like to watch TV. I like to go swimming, too – I used to go with the ladies to LeRoy, but not anymore,” she said. “I’ve been trying to tell my friend that she and I should open a store downtown, a used-a-bit shop.”
Larson has a bit of advice to enjoying life and making the most of every day. “I just live day-by-day and I enjoy every day as it is. I like to have friends and be a friend,” she concluded.