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Celebrating her 104th birthday

Lake Park resident Verna Bloom is turning 104 on Saturday, March 22. She fills her days at Sunnyside Care Center by crocheting, including this colorful afghan. DL NEWSPAPERS/Vicki Gerdes

Verna Bloom is celebrating a birthday this Saturday.

The Sunnyside Care Center resident got quite a twinkle in her eye when she announced, “They’re going to serve cake and ice cream!”

Both her son Wally, who lives in Lake Park, and daughter Joanne, who lives in Chicago, are expected to be in attendance, along with numerous other relatives and friends.

It’s a very special occasion, after all. It’s not every day that someone celebrates 104 years of life on Earth.

Yes, Verna was born in 1910. The year the Boy Scouts of America was founded. The year President William H. Taft began the tradition of throwing out the first pitch on the opening day of baseball season. The year Alva Fisher patented the first electric washing machine. The year the world’s first female cop, Alice Stebbins Wells, was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Verna was born into a family of eight children, on a farm in Westbury; her education ended with her graduation from the eighth grade at District 44, the country school nearest to where she lived.

“I finished the eighth grade, and that was it,” Verna says. “Years ago they didn’t have too many high schools.”

She continued to work on the farm, both doing housework indoors, and doing chores around the farm. In 1942, when Verna had just turned 18, her mother passed away; her father would follow suit a scant eight years later.

Until she met and married her husband Willard in 1934, Verna never worked outside the farm.

“We all just stayed home and kept the farm going,” she says.

After her marriage to Willard Bloom on Aug. 22, 1954, Verna moved to Lake Park, where she and her husband owned and operated Bloom’s Hardware & Appliance.

“We had the store for about three years,” Verna said. After that, she became a full-time housewife, raising their two children, daughter Joanne Elizabeth and son, Wallace. (A third child, son Roland, died at just four months of age.)

“I had a lot of beautiful flowers in the garden to take care of,” she added.

After Willard’s death in 1973, Verna continued to live in the house she had shared with him until moving into an apartment, where she lived alone “for quite a few years.”

In 2006, she became a temporary resident of Sunnyside Care Center, following a stroke, and when she later broke her hip and became wheelchair dependent, “I moved here for good,” Verna says.

“I love it here,” she added. “Everyone here… they’re all my friends.”

In addition to spending time socializing with her fellow residents, Verna’s favorite pastime is crocheting.

“I make things for everybody,” she said, including baby blankets, afghans, scarves and other specialty items.

Her son Wally, a retired Perham high school teacher, now makes his home in Lake Park.

“Wally comes by here practically every day,” Verna says.

“Joanne moved to Chicago,” she added. “She got married and worked at a lot of different hospitals as an x-ray technician.”

Between them, Verna’s two children gave her six grandchildren; she isn’t quite sure how many great, great-great, and great-great-great grandkids she has now.

“But I love them all,” Verna says with a smile.

As far as her health goes, she added, “I feel fine.” So does she have any tips to share for living a long life? Not really.

“I don’t really have any secrets for that… I just take care of myself,” Verna said.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454