Esther Radke turns 100

Open House at Ridgeway on 23rd Sunday

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Esther Radke, a resident at Ridgeway on 23rd in New Ulm, turned 100 years old on Thursday, July 5, and will celebrate with an open house on Sunday.

NEW ULM — Esther Radke turned 100 years old on July 5 but if you didn’t know her age, you would probably think she’s much younger.

She is still quite active. She hears well and enjoys engaging in conversation.

Radke lived by herself until age 95 when she moved to Ridgeway on 23rd. One of the few things she didn’t do in her life is drive a motor vehicle very much.

“I drove a car once (in about 1964). Somebody said they didn’t like the way I drove, so I stopped driving,” Radke said. “After that, I walked to most places including the library, stores, especially a former sausage shop on 3rd North Street, and to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.”

Radke worked at the New Ulm Public Library for a number of years. She lived at 419 N. Franklin St. and at 511 N. Jefferson St. for much of her life.

How has she lived so long?

“Dr. Louters takes good care of me,” Radke said.

She said her life’s highlights included going out to eat at the Sportsman’s Grill in New Ulm with Flavia Gag, an author, artist, writer and illustrator of eight children’s books and a younger sister of Wanda Gag of New Ulm, also a famous artist, author and illustrator.

You could say Esther had some of her own fame. An honorary member of the Turner Ladies Society of New Ulm for many decades, she was a Heritagefest Parade Festmeister.

In addition, she sold Heritagefest admission tickets, helped count cash at Cathedral of the Holy Trinity events and sold refreshments at Johnson Park during baseball games. She enjoyed dancing at Polka Days and traveling as far away as Europe with The Concord Singers.

“I always had to do something,” Radke said. “I really enjoyed reading autobiographies and history books. I like people.”

Her hobbies included collecting antiques, especially dolls, and traveling the United States and Europe.

These days, she enjoys playing cards and bingo with friends and family, putting puzzles together and visiting with her family, which live in and around New Ulm. She has one daughter, Sandy Prange of New Ulm.

“She’s lived a clean life. She never smoked and always stays busy,” Prange said.

Radke’s husband Armin, who drove a truck for Supersweet Feeds, died decades ago.

An open house celebrating her 100th birthday will be held 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 8 at Ridgeway on 23rd.