Scrabble fan, 112, is state's oldest

  • Article by: WARREN WOLFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 22, 2011 - 10:19 PM

"Super-centenarian" Ruth Anderson marks milestone with another game.

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Ruth Anderson may be the only Minnesotan alive who has lived in the 1800s, 1900s and 2000s. She was born on July 24, 1899.

Ruth Anderson, who is believed to be the oldest Minnesotan, turns 112 on Sunday, and the family will start a two-day celebration Saturday at her nursing home in Marshall, Minn., with a party -- and another game of Scrabble.

"She's still going strong with games, especially Scrabble," said daughter-in-law Beverly Anderson of Balaton, Minn. "She loves reading her Swedish Bible and she loves Scrabble."

Ruth Anderson is the 11th oldest American and 32nd oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, which tracks "super-centenarians," people who are 110 or older. She is also believed to be the only Minnesotan who has lived in three centuries: the 1800s, 1900s and 2000s.

On Sunday, relatives will drive her the 25 miles to her home church, Sillerud Lutheran near Balaton. That's where she celebrated her 110th birthday by giving the sermon after reading aloud from her Swedish Bible, then translating it into English.

"Ruth's doing pretty well now, but we had a scare in March when she got a bladder infection and became completely unresponsive for a while," her daughter-in-law said. "Her knees are bad, so she doesn't walk much, but she's not taking any prescriptions for anything. She's kind of amazing."

Anderson was born Ruth Peterson on July 24, 1899, with a twin brother, Abel, who died at age 1. She grew up speaking Swedish at home on a farm south of Ruthton in southwest Minnesota. She learned English at a one-room schoolhouse a mile's walk across the fields. She never attended high school but went to secretarial school in Mankato and worked in Minneapolis for six years before returning to the farm to care for her ailing parents. She also helped raise a number of nieces and nephews.

At age 60, she was married for the first time, to her widowed brother-in-law, George. He died at age 90.

When she was 98, Anderson moved to an assisted living facility in Marshall. At 105 she moved to Avera Marshall Morningside Heights nursing home.

"We try not to have real big parties because it can get overwhelming for Ruth," her daughter-in-law said. "She does better with small groups -- especially if they want to play Scrabble."

Warren Wolfe • 612-673-7253

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