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Celebration of a century at Oak Crossing

ALICE RISLUND will observe her 100th birthday on Monday, Feb. 7. Her family and friends are planning a celebration this weekend at Oak Crossing.

Monday, Feb. 7, will be a special day at Oak Crossing in Detroit Lakes.

That's the day resident Alice Rislund marks her 100th year of life.

Alice Gerda Pederson came into this world on Feb. 7, 1911, the youngest of three daughters born to Anton and Olivia (Arneson) Pederson -- who also had two sons.

When she was born, Alice's 7-year-old brother asked the midwife, "Where did that baby come from?"

As Alice recalls the story, "She told him that she found it (the baby) in the straw stack, so he spent the rest of the day in the straw stacks, looking for more babies."

Alice's parents emigrated from Norway to the tiny town of Audubon, where they would establish a homestead to raise their five children.

As the family was Norwegian, that was the spoken language in their home. Alice spoke no English until she began school at age 8, attending the District 78 country school in rural Audubon. She graduated at the age of 14.

Obsessed with earning money -- so she could follow her passion for fashion by shopping for all the latest styles in clothing -- Alice took a job working at a neighbor's farm for $2 a week.

Her subsequent jobs included helping with the housekeeping, cooking and watching children for families near their home and in North Dakota.

Alice, along with two of her siblings, would play music for dances at house parties, often walking across fields and snowdrifts so they could play and dance all night, then walking back home again.

It was around this time that Richard Rislund, a neighbor and friend of the family, started hanging around their farm more often.

Alice told her parents, "I suppose I better go out with him, so he will leave you alone."

Alice and Richard Rislund were married on April 20, 1929. They raised four children together: Marly, who now lives on the farm where Alice grew up; Kelly Eilertson of rural Audubon; Luaine (John) Warling of Lake Park; and Richard L. Rislund, who was killed in an automobile accident along with his wife Diane and their son Eric.

Her son Richard and his family were on their way home for Christmas when the accident occurred, Alice recalled; daughter Denise was the only survivor of the tragedy.

In addition to her three surviving children, Alice also has eight grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.

For 30 years, Alice and Richard Rislund owned and operated the original Lake Center Store, five miles south of Audubon. Alice also spent seven years working at Norby's Department Store in Detroit Lakes, where she continued to indulge her passion for fashion by selling all the latest styles to her customers.

As she had with her siblings in her early years, Alice continued her love of music by singing with her "neighbor lady" at many funerals held at St. Peter's Church in Audubon, where Alice remains a lifelong member.

As her family puts it, she has always "loved high heels, wore hats and dressed up for Halloween and different parties."

After her husband Richard passed away in 1982, Alice continued to live in Audubon until 1989, when she moved to Park Manor in Detroit Lakes. She continued to live there for more than 11 years until coming to Oak Crossing.

One of her greatest milestones came on her 80th birthday, when she enjoyed her first airplane ride.

She "sat on the pilot's lap and got her wings, with God's blessing."

At Oak Crossing, Alice enjoys socializing, going to church and other activities -- but music remains as her favorite pastime. Her children are frequent visitors, and sometimes join her for activities at the nursing home, where she will formally celebrate her 100th birthday this coming weekend.

As Alice was unable to be present for her scheduled newspaper interview this week, the information for this article was prepared and submitted on her behalf by the staff of Oak Crossing.