When it was time to take a photo of Harriet Minsaas this past week, she did not want the flowers she had gotten for her birthday in the background.
“I don’t want it to look like a funeral,” she said with a smile.
Minsaas was being photographed on a Wednesday afternoon after telling the story of her life which began March 10, 1918.
That’s right, as of this month, Harriet Minsaas of Redwood Falls is 100 years old.
Born in Olivia at the family home to Harold and Hattie Griffith she grew up in her small community.
“We lived in town,” said Minsaas.
Her father was a banker, and, according to Minsaas’ son Hal, he was “the poor sod who had to pull down the shade” on the front door on that infamous day in 1929 that led to the Great Depression.
Six years later in 1935 Minsaas graduated from Olivia High School and went on to college in Mankato to become a teacher.
“There weren’t any jobs around here,” she said.
The depression was having a major impact on the economy.
So, Minsaas opted to move to California. There she taught at a private school in Los Gatos, Calif.
In 1942 she married William Friedrich and had a daughter named Judy. That marriage did not last, and Minsaas found herself back in Minnesota.
It was April 21, 1950 when Harriet married Eldor R. Minsaas in Olivia.
According to Hal, while in California, his mom taught a young girl named Leilani Owens, whose father was a musician. The song “Sweet Leilani” performed by Bing Crosby is about that girl in her class.
When Harriet returned to Minnesota she taught at various country schools in Renville County, including one south of Hector. She also spent a number of years teaching Grades 4-6 at the school in North Redwood.
When asked why she wanted to be a teacher, Harriet said she thought it was a job that she could do.
“When you taught at country school you taught all of the grades,” she said.
Throughout her life, those who knew Minsaas would recognize her for her sewing skills. She enjoyed needlework and said she appreciated times spent quilting with others at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church where she was a member.
“I just love to knit and crochet,” she said.
Harriet also enjoyed time spent with friends and having them over for coffee parties.
While she could not venture a guess why she was “lucky” enough to reach the age of 100, Harriet said she always felt fortunate to have good friends.
Harriet enjoys her family and any interaction she has with her children, grandchildren and even the great-grandchildren.
Hal mentioned his mom is a great cook, has a great sense of humor and overall was a great mom.