Zahn becomes a super centenarian

Says she feels great at 110

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Erna Zahn celebrates her 110th birthday with family members from as far away as Wisconsin and Illinois at Oak Hills Living Center Saturday. Zahn said she still feels “wonderful.”

NEW ULM — Family members came from near and far to help Erna Zahn become a supercentenarian, celebrating her 110th birthday at Oak Hills Living Center April 14.

“I fell wonderful. I can’t complain,” Zahn said, celebrating with dozens of family members from New Ulm and as far away as Wisconsin and Illinois.

Last year, she rode a horse on her birthday. A historical display of her life included a photograph in The Journal of her shoveling snow about 45 years ago.

“Get out and shovel snow. It’s really good exercise,” she said in the story. “Eat breakfast. It’s what keeps me going.”

She credits diet and exercise for her longevity too.

“I don’t skip meals,” she said. Her diet includes daily ice cream. She also enjoys dark chocolate and bananas.

Her family members credited her strong faith in family, God and using prayer to get through some of life’s bigger challenges, but never praying for more money.

Erna is well known in the family for making great coffee cake.

At age 8, it was her responsibility to have dinner ready while her mother worked in the family-owned general store in Pickett, Wis. She remembers lighting wick lanterns.

As a young girl, she enjoyed horseback riding, often on Sunday afternoons, sewing and swimming. She rode a horse on her birthday last year. She often asks if anyone in the area rents out their horses.

Some of her favorite historical moments she’s had include riding in the rumble seat of a car from home to Mount Rushmore, while it was still under construction.

She married Meilahn Zahn in 1935. He was head of the Martin Luther College music department from 1962 to 1975. They remained together throughout his life and had six children. Their oldest son Richard of, is nearly 82.

In the United States, only 22 out of every 100,000 people reach age 100. The exact number of super centenarians is unknown.


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