A reluctant Anna Stoehr, now the world's 30th-oldest living person, celebrated turning 112.
A few months ago, Anna Stoehr decided she was finished with big birthday parties.
"People make too much out of this age business," she said in an interview last May. "I'm done with parties."
Right. She decided recently, maybe just one more, to celebrate her 112th.
"Well, I guess people kind of expect it," she said last week. "And it is nice to see people."
On Sunday, the day before her birthday, Stoehr was the star attraction at a party with more than 200 friends and family members at the American Legion club a few miles from her farmhouse at the edge of Potsdam, Minn., 15 miles north of Rochester.
The oldest Minnesotan, she also is believed to be the oldest documented person in the world living alone.
A widow since 1998, Stoehr is the 14th-oldest living American and 30th-oldest documented person in the world -- up from 40th five months ago -- according to the Gerontology Research Group (www.grg.org), which keeps track.
"Mom's still doing pretty well -- not real steady on her feet, but her mind is still sharp," said daughter Lois Neighbors of Emmetsburg, Iowa.
"She already canned a bunch of peaches and froze some sweet corn for the winter," Neighbors said.
Stoehr exhibits many of the hallmarks found in most super-centenarians -- people 110 and older. She has a thin build, an optimistic outlook, a good sense of humor, no life-threatening diseases, stays active and keeps frequent contact with neighbors and friends. She also has a strong faith, reads newspapers daily and plays cards and Scrabble several times a week.
"She's an amazing person," said one of her many retired physicians, Dr. Thomas Miller, who attended the party Sunday. "She does all the right things, eats well, stays active, and she's got the best attitude of anybody I know. She's serene. As a doctor, my job was just to stay out of her way."
Overall, there are about 72,000 centenarians in the United States, just 20 of them 110 or older.
Last spring, Stoehr's family persuaded her to hire an aide to come help clean twice a week. That lasted for a month, when Stoehr decided it was a waste of money to hire somebody to do what she could do for herself.
As she has for several years, Stoehr recently talked about moving to an assisted-living facility in Plainview, 9 miles away, at least for the winter.
"That might be good, but we're not holding our breath," said daughter-in-law Marlene Stoehr of Shoreview.
"She says that every fall, then decides she'd really rather stay in her own home. But maybe this is the year -- or not."
Warren Wolfe • 612-673-7253
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