'An extra-long life isn't fair'

staff writer

Clara Bredemeier of Marion has no idea why she has lived to such a ripe, old age. She turned 105 on Tuesday.

“It is in God’s power,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair because He will take little kids and babies and let me live. When He calls me, I will shake His hand and say, ‘You didn’t treat us right. You took the young ones and left an old one like me.”’

Now a resident of St. Luke Living Center in Marion, Bredemeier was born on a farm near Lincolnville and was the only one of her family to graduate from high school. She graduated from Lincolnville High School as salutatorian in 1927. Tillie Hein of Tampa, another centenarian, was a classmate.

Bredemeier taught all eight grades for two years at East Creek School District southeast of Lincolnville before marrying Herbert Bredemeier.

She said she has seen good and bad changes in her lifetime. She remembers when cars, airplanes, and telephones first came into existence. Like others of her time, she always had a large garden and canned a lot of fruits and vegetables. The couple milked cows, so they always had plenty of milk, butter, and cottage cheese.

Meanwhile, they had two children, Laura and Dick.

“Children need a raising up,” Bredemeier said, “and mine have done pretty good, not because they are mine, but because they have done it.”

The couple moved several times before settling in Marion. They were married for 74 years before Herb died in 2003. Clara continued to live at 630 S. Cedar St. until she was no longer able to take care of herself. She lived at Parkside Homes in Hillsboro until two years ago, when she moved to the living center.

She cannot walk and can’t see or hear very well, but she said she doesn’t lack for attention. She said the workers at the center are wonderful, and their comings and goings keep her from being bored.

She is thankful for the help her children have given her. “They are wonderful,” she said. She has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Bredemeier’s daughter, Laura, and daughter-in-law, Evelyn, arranged a party for her at the living center on her birthday. She said she was looking forward to the event.

As for the future, she said she lives one day at a time. Her philosophy about life is to “keep your nose out of other people’s business. Live, give, and let live.”

It seems that one advantage of growing old is that one remembers the good times and forgets the bad times.

“I have a lot of memories,” Bredemeier said. “I don’t know if there are any bad ones. They are all good.”

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