In the ten years since Evelyn Kleine turned 100, she’s been treated to a lobster dinner each year for her birthday. She’s played countless card games, recalled many stories of her youth, and Tuesday, July 11, 2017, made the local evening news on multiple channels as Minnesota’s second oldest resident.
At her birthday celebration in the St. Anthony Health Center/Chandler Place dining room, she received two pins from St. Anthony City Council Member Randy Stille, acting in place of the mayor. One was a St. Anthony pin, the other for “attitude.” He quipped that “we’re happy to have you here, even though it took 104 years to get here.”
Her life’s journey started in Northeast Minneapolis, daughter of Anna and Gus Holm. Then the family moved to Columbia Heights when she was 8. She’s lived in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in Florida but was back at age 70, living at Heights Manor and then Parkview Villa when it was first built.
Kleine outlived two husbands and had no children, but spends a lot of time with special great nieces Joanie and Sherry, grand-daughters of her siblings (she had three sisters and a brother). They still play cribbage and other card games. An assortment of generations attended her party, snapping selfies and listening to Curtis and Loretta play Que Será Será, Edelweiss, Amazing Grace, and other tunes.
While by her own assessment “the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be” (great-neice Joanie Anderson quoting great-aunt Evelyn) people are often surprised to find out she’s 110. Do we know what 110 is supposed to look like? Her father and grandfather lived to be 96 and 94, so it runs in the family.
Kleine attributes longevity to clean living, lots of vitamins, never having smoked or imbibed alcohol, ignoring trouble. She told WCCO reporter Reg Chapman that her advice to young people is to have fun and enjoy being with each other.
Wednesday July 12, she would go to the Roseville Red Lobster where the same manager has bought her dinner since age 99. They say, “see you next year” every year.
Curtis and Loretta played Simple Gifts to end the formal program, and then the microphone was arranged for the guest of honor. “Thank you everybody for being so thoughtful and kind to me,” Kleine said. “This is a beautiful day, I love you.”
Below: Evelyn Kleine waits for great niece Joanie Anderson to photograph her cake, and assorted journalists recorded the July 11 celebration held on the supercentenarian’s birthday. (Photo by Margo Ashmore) There is one person in Minnesota age 111. Above, a portrait at age 109. At age 100, Kleine rode in the Columbia Heights Jamboree Parade, one of her fondest memories.