Wangsness to celebrate ‘century birthday’

Posted July 17, 2013 at 12:00 am

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Dorothy Wangsness of Miller is attaining a status that not many do. She will officially be a centenarian on July 23, 2013, as she celebrates her 100-year birthday.

Dorothy Marie was born Wednesday, July 23, 1913 in Miller to James and Marie (Nelson) Nielson.

During 1913, Suffragettes demonstrated in London and Washington, D.C., and a suffrage group was formed in Miller. The New York Grand Central Station opened. Henry Ford began the assembly line. Charley Chaplin began his film career. Woodrow Wilson was president. World War I hadn’t begun. The U.S. population was 97,225,000.

The day after Dorothy’s birth, in Miller, the paper reported the first Chautauqua had been held, with a large turnout. Small grain looked good. New books were placed in the local library. July was exceptionally cool. And it was reported…the cost of living still soars.

When Dorothy was four years old, she moved with her family to a farm in Midland Township, located two miles south and eight miles west of Miller, in the Ree Hills. She had two sisters, Margaret Cain, now deceased, and a “little sister,” Viola Jansen, who is now 95 years of age, living in Kissimmee, Florida.

Dorothy attended Miller High School, and graduated in 1931. She then earned a one-year teaching certificate from Northern State Teacher’s College in Aberdeen.

She married Henry Wangsness October 24, 1934. They lived southwest of Miller, in Rockdale Township.

The couple had nine children, and Dorothy kept busy rearing her family and maintaining a farm home. As with most farm wives, she sewed, gardened and cooked for her active family, without the many conveniences we now take for granted.

The children were Roger (now deceased), DeWayne (now deceased), Darrell, Rose Fawcett, Terry (now deceased), Dotty Zens (now deceased), Mark, Harriet Chipman and Jerry.

After 46 years of marriage, Dorothy’s husband died on September 2, 1981.

She continued her active life, and kept busy quilting, crocheting and reading. She especially enjoyed travelling. And of course, with a growing family of grandchildren and later great-grandchildren, she always had cookies and treats on hand for them.

She is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, and Hope Circle.

Daughter Harriet says, “Mom never complains. She always says, ‘just don’t worry about it’.” And, no doubt, such an attitude plays a role in Dorothy’s longevity. Her advice is to, “Appreciate and enjoy each day. Keep a positive attitude in all circumstances. Make the best of everything that comes your way.”

Harriet says her mother is in quite good health, and enjoys visiting with people. “She always says to come in and sit down.”

Dorothy now lives at the Good Samaritan Society in Miller. She enjoys playing Bingo, watching TV, and visiting.

She is now an official member of the KELO Century Club. One of the questions posed on her application was to list her favorite foods, and her response is pure South Dakotan: Hamburger with pickles, green beans, and pecan or pumpkin pie.

“She’s just so pleasant to be around,” says Harriet. “The staff just loves her, and she enjoys the companionship of having people around.”

Birthday wishes can be sent to her at 421 E. 4th Street, Miller, SD 57362.

Oh, yes, she noted advice she received from her parents or grandparents that sticks with her, and that she has lived by. It’s pretty good advice yet today: Respect your elders; care for others; say your prayers.

“A ppreciate and enjoy each day. Keep a positive attitude in all circumstances. Make the best of everything that comes your way.”

~Dorothy Wangsness