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Stewartville woman turns 110

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Ruth Andreasen celebrates her 110th birthday with four generations of family on Friday at the Stewartville Care Center.

STEWARTVILLE — The supercentenarians, perhaps the most exclusive club in the human race, have a new member.

Ruth Andreasen celebrated turning 110 years old Friday. Born on Feb. 8, 1903, in Parkersburg, Iowa, she is the second-oldest person in Minnesota, said Sharon Bernard, activities director at the Stewartville Care Center, where Andreasen lives.

That's not all: Also on Friday, Lucile Voeltz, who also lives at the center, turned 101 years old. The center celebrated with a birthday party for the two.

Andreasen "is a special person to live to 110 and still be able to function," said Wilma Menshik, of Rochester, Andreasen's first cousin. "Sure, she needs a lot of help, but she knows who I am, she always says to tell George [Wilma's husband] 'hello' when I visit. That's outstanding."

Andreasen's daughter, Jane Hoeft, lives in York, Neb., and attended the event. She said Ruth has nine grandkids, 19 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great-grandchildren.

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Ruth [nee Poppen] married James Andreasen in 1923 and ran a farm seven miles west of Stewartville for many years. They moved into Stewartville after selling the farm in the early 1990s.

Before they met, James served in World War I as an engineer in France, splitting railroad ties for rebuilding the rail lines on the continent, said one of the couple's sons, Gordon Andreasen, of Stewartville.

The couple's other son, Norbert Andreasen, of Chatfield, served in the Philippines in World War II. Gordon served in Germany during the Korean War.

Both of her mother's parents lived to be 87 years old and died seven years apart, Hoeft said.

Her mother attributes her longevity to three things, Hoeft said: "She never smoked, never drank and has a strong faith."

Hoeft and Gordon both said their mother has been very active in the Methodist church all her life.

Voeltz, meanwhile, has a bright, cheerful face and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the party.

Her nephew, Don Steigerwald, and his wife live in Stewartville and often visit Voeltz.

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Steigerwald said Voeltz and her husband, Fredrick, — or "Fritz" — owned a farm in Prescott, Wis. In her younger days, Voeltz worked in a window shade factory after World War II, then at a resort in Brainerd for a time.

She has two children, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandchild due in March, said her daughter Lois Esterrich. Esterrich said her mother's secret to longevity is "living day-to-day with God."

"She's very sharp," said Bernard. "She wins our spelling bees and our trivia contests."

Gary Scoldon, Voeltz's grandson, drove up from Illinois to attend the party. He said it was raining at his home when he left, but the rain soon turned to snow and there were several inches of the white stuff on the ground on part of his route. But he wouldn't have missed this party, he said.

Surrounded by relatives, the two ladies talked with reporters and smiled at the cards, gifts, balloons and flowers on their table. They both seemed to especially enjoy the cake and ice cream served to all who attended the landmark celebration.

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