100 and counting

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey Mervin Ingebritson turned 100 Sunday, April 8. He celebrated the day before with about 50 friends and relatives visiting him at Orchard Hill.

NEW ULM — The newest centenarian at Orchard Hill Assisted Living Community hosted 50 guests Saturday for his birthday party.

Mervin Ingebritson’s party was a day early. He turned 100 Sunday, April 8. He was delighted to catch up with his friends and relatives who came from across the country.

“Togetherness is a pretty important thing in our relationship on my wife’s side and on my side and they melded together very nicely,” Ingebritson said.

Ingebritson was born near Story City, Iowa. His father died when he was about 1. His mother followed when he was nearing 7.

As a child he spent much of his time bouncing between relatives in northern Iowa and Minnesota.

“This was Depression years,” Ingebritson said. “They had to add one mouth to their already difficult problem of maintaining their farms and so on. I can never thank them enough.”

He helped out where he could, and in 1935 Ingebritson began attending high school on what was then Dr. Martin Luther College (DMLC) campus.

He continued through DMLC into college where he double-majored in English and psychology and became a teacher with the encouragement of his relatives.

Ingebritson’s teaching career started in a one-room school house. He went on to teach across the country, including Milwaukee, Wis., and Parkland, Wash.

“Parents can be a great asset when you are teaching,” Ingebritson said. “They are extremely important.”

In 1944 he married Lorraine, a nurse who would support Ingebritson for two years as he got his graduate degree from Omaha University.

“I give my wife the most credit helping to shape me into what I am. She was my life blood,” Ingebritson said.

They were married for 69 years before Lorraine passed away in 2013. After that Ingebritson moved to Orchard Hill.

His advice for a long marriage is communication and cooperation.

“One thing that is imperative is continuous cooperation and the communication,” Ingebritson said. “Not only that, the communication, but also the expression of your feelings toward one another.”

By 1971 Ingebritson was back in New Ulm. He returned to DMLC to supervise student teachers.

He said he loved to learn from his students and see the dedication and energy they put into tasks they wanted to accomplish.

Ingebritson oversaw students until his retirement in 1984. At that time the college was downsizing, he said, making it a good time for him to step down.

In his retirement, Ingebritson and his wife traveled the country. They visited every state, except Alaska and Rhode Island, but still their number-one place to be was home.

He also volunteered with a prison ministry, and continues to do so today. They took in donations to buy Bibles and send them, along with a study guide, to prisons around the country.

What keeps Ingebritson going now is staying connected with his family. He likes to have friends and family visit.

“I am thankful for God, who has created me and blessed me continually all these years, and all of the relatives that I have shaped me in so many different ways,” Ingebritson said. “They have influenced me in morality, religiously and socially and emotionally. Whatever I am today, I give credit to these people for their input and their influence. That I think is a major part of my thinking about life itself.”

Connor Cummiskey can be emailed at ccummiskey@nujournal.com.