To the anonymous author of a letter
A nicely typed, though cryptic, unsigned letter:
It is unfortunate that the Star Tribune can grab the story seven miles north of Rochester.
I would have thought that the Back Roads would lead to Potsdam and Anna Stoehr.
Please don't reprint the Star Tribune story because than (sic) more readers will ask about the Back Roads.
The anonymous author is referring to a story that ran in the Strib on May 25, about 111-year-old Anna Stoehr. The story notes that Anna still reads the Post-Bulletin, though she needs a magnifying glass to do it. Hope that's not a reflection on our type size.
Anyway -- what the letter writer didn't realize is that we had the story on Feb. 17:
Elgin woman is oldest verified Minnesotan
By Sandy Hadler
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
ELGIN — One hundred and eleven-year-old Anna Stoehr was amazed to learn that she is 45th on the validated list of the oldest living people in the world. Her response, “Oh, my gosh!”
Several years ago she said she was 62nd from the top.
Stoehr, who lives in rural Elgin near Potsdam, was adamant that she doesn’t want to live as long as Besse Cooper, an American who was born on Aug. 26, 1896, and, at 115, is the oldest living woman in the world.
“I wouldn’t want to be here that long," Stoehr said. "That’s four more years! By that time I won’t even be able to get around.”
That’s not to say she doesn’t love living.
“Everything is good in my life. I have nothing to complain about," she said. "I don’t think my life could have been better.”
When asked how it feels to be 111, she responded, “The same as when I was 99.”
Stoehr was born on Oct. 15, 1900, in Iowa to German immigrant parents Bertha and Carl Rott (pronounced rut). Her longevity doesn’t appear to have come from genetics since her mother died in her early 80s and her father died when he was 89.
Stoehr and her husband, Ernest, bought the farm where she now lives in 1936. They milked cows and she raised chickens. He died in 1997.
“I’ve lived on a farm my whole life,” she said. “But I’m not farming now. I just live here. My grandsons own the land.”
The couple raised five children, and Stoehr has outlived two of them, both of whom died in June 2011. Her youngest daughter, Carolyn, died of cancer, and her son Marvin died suddenly. She cherishes her three remaining children, Harlan Stoehr, Lois Neighbors and Dorothy Wood.
Stoehr is remarkably active for her age. She has frequent visitors and plays cards with her nephew Wayne Siem of Mazeppa and other family members who like to engage her in a competitive game of 500. She particularly loves Scrabble, which she plays often with Lois, who, since becoming a widow several years ago, spends winters with her mother.
Stoehr said she used to crochet, quilt and read, but failing eyesight has made it impossible for her to pursue those pastimes. She does not like to watch TV. But she still bakes bread.
“It beats the bread that you buy,” she said. And she’s proud of the fact that her daughters also bake their own bread.
Stoehr has no advice about why she has lived to be 111.
“For goodness sake, I don’t have an answer to a question like that. I did nothing," she said. "And it’s not luck. It’s all in the good Lord’s hands.”
She did, however, offer some general advice.
“All you need in life is a place to stay and food," she said. "The rest are gifts from God that you can do without.”
There are 71 people on the validated living supercentenarians list who range in age from 110 to 115 years old. Twenty-five of those people are from Japan, 18 from the U.S., 8 from France, 7 from the United Kingdom, 6 from Italy, and one each from Barbados, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Spain and Germany. It is estimated that there are 300-450 living supercentenarians, but the ages of all except the 71 validated people has not been verified by the Gerontology Research Group.
The anonymous letter writer might want to read the paper as carefully as Anna apparently does.