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Elsie celebrates 100 years - 'right on!'

Tandberg, Kathy. "Elsie celebrates 100 years - 'right on!'" Hazen Star, 18 August 2011, 8.


Elsie Baier Schrempf has two wishes for her 100th birthday. Both have a good chance of coming true.

The first wish is for a little fame - she wants Willard Scott to wish her happy birthday on NBC's Today Show.

"It's been her dream to live to be 100 just so she could be on Willard Scott's birthday announcements," Elsie's daughter Eunice Shilts said.

Elsie just might have that chance since family submitted her photo, a biography and name to Scott.

"I can't believe that I got this old. I'm the first one in the family to make it to 100! My mama died young, and so did my sister," Elsie exclaimed. "My friends are all gone now and here I am still here laughing around. I like to laugh. Right on!”

Indeed she does. She said her three doctors enjoy her laugh and are always telling her that laughter is the best medicine around. At 100, the proof is in the pudding, as they say.

While being announced as a centenarian by Willard Scott depends on luck, Elsie’s second birthday wish is a sure thing.

This second wish is perhaps the best – for she doesn’t necessarily think turning 100 is that remarkable, she realizes the perks that come with it. The perks - a big family birthday party, including her children, most of her many grandchildren, plus other family and close friends.

"They're all coming to see me and we're having a party. Right on!" Elsie said with obvious joy. –

It will be a big party, for her grandchildren alone can fill up a room. There are 13 grandchildren, 189 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Elsie's secret to living 100 years is one she learned as the daughter of German from Russia immigrants: work hard and keep on laughing.

Laughing is something Elsie does often and it's infectious to those around her, including her friends at the Knife River Care Center, and the care center employees who get a kick out of her famous sayings.

Elsie is known for her famous sayings and advice, which she also enjoys sharing. You can't have a conversation with her without hearing one or several of these, such as "Right on!" ·

"She tells everybody that all the time," Eunice said.

"Did she tell you 'No speeding?"' a granddaughter, Cindy Shilts, wondered in an e-mail.

Keep on running and thumbs up are also phrases Elsie is famous for saying.

"(Grandmother's) got more spunk than I do some days," Cindy added.

Elsie was born Sept. 3, 1911, on· the family homestead near Rhein, an Oliver County farm 18 miles south of Hazen and then a few west. Her parents Christian and Johanna (Auwinger) Baier immigrated to America in 1907. Elsie was the second born of five children. Her siblings were Hulda, Prince, Julius and Chris.

Elsie attended school in Hazen in 1919 as a fourth-grader. She met the love of her life, Jacob Schrempf, also an Oliver County resident at the time, at a dance at the Riedemann place.
“Jacob came with an old car. He took me and my brother home that night. I remember one time he wanted me to get used to the car. I got behind the wheel and went into the ditch. He never let me forget that,” she said with a laugh.
Jacob and Elsie were united in marriage May 2, 1938. The couple lived the first two years of married life near Zap where Jacob worked for a coal mine. They started their family there with the birth of Eunice. Then they moved back to the family farm in Oliver County. While there, their next two their children, Ellen (Gieser) and Beverly (Webb), were born.

In 1947 the couple packed up the family and moved into Hazen where Jacob worked as a welder for Hazen Hide and Fur. Then their only son, Gerald, was born.

Elsie loved becoming a town girl and shared her thoughts of Hazen in the 1988 Diamond Jubilee book. She was 77 at the time:

"Hazen is a lot different than when I grew up. It has more trees and beautiful lawns. We also have paved streets, a large hospital and the mailman comes to our mailbox in front of our house. We have a large, new schoolhouse. I can remember the squeaky floors in the old schoolhouse when I went to school in Hazen in the fourth grade (1919)."

Elsie loved being a housewife raising her family. When the family moved into Hazen she kept her own garden to feed the family'.

"I loved my garden. It was beautiful. My boy, Gerald, helped me in it. He was my weed puller," she recalled.

"She had an immaculate garden. There was never a weed in it," Eunice added.

Elsie grew many tomato plants and canned them. She also canned tomato soup. In addition to canning the fresh garden produce, she also canned beef, chicken and pork.

She said Jacob also enjoyed the garden, though his work entailed sitting on the back porch with the hose watering it.
“He would sit there and swing the hose back and forth. Then he’d tease me and make me run as he sprayed me. He liked to get me wet and then he would laugh,” Elsie recalled with joy on her soft face.
Eunice said Elsie is a great mother who cares deeply for her children. In addition to fresh, home-canned foods, she said her mother is also a great baker and cook.
Elsie said her favorite thing to cook for the family was strudel.

"Here (KRCC) they cook OK, but they don't cook like me. Right on!" Elsie said with a chuckle.

"She taught us how to work hard. As a mother, she taught me how to care for babies and to be a mother, how to cook and clean the house and take care of a family all at the same time. She taught me to darn socks and patch clothes, too;" Eunice said.

The Schrempfs Were on the move again when they headed to Minot. Five years later in 1978 they moved back to Hazen. Sadly, Jacob died in 1980 at the age of 65. Elsie remained in Hazen, living on her own until the age of 95 when she moved into Senior Suites.

Six months later Elsie moved again, this time to the KRCC where she remains today. Elsie enjoys playing cards and bingo. She also enjoys the church services held at the KRCC chapel.

She especially enjoys the Lawrence Welk Show.

"I call her night and on Saturday. I· have to wait until 8 p.m. until the Lawrence Welk Show is over," Eunice added.

Elsie said she is proud of her family.

"My children are all good children. I can't wait until they come for my party,” she said.

Elsie loves to share advice, and many of it comes with one of her famous sayings.

"I don't talk much now, but I do this," she said, placing her finger to her lips to zip them.

"I tell people, 'No speeding.' I tell my doctor-that and even my family."

"I look forward to having my party and seeing my family. I can't wait," Elsie said.

Elsie's family will gather Aug. 20 for a birthday party. Birthday wishes can be sent to Elsie in care of the Knife River Care Center, 118 22nd St. N.E., Beulah, ND 58523. Right on!

Ellie Schrempf's dream of living to 100 is to have NBC's Willard Scott wish her happy birthday on the air.
Elsie and Jacob Schrempf had this family photo taken in 1955. Pictured from left, is Jacob, Elsia with Gerald on her lap, Beverly, Ellen and Eunice.
Jacob Schrempf and Elsie Baier were united in marriage in 1938.

Reprinted with permission from Hazen Star.

 

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