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100 years and still independent

Submitted photo 100-year-old Charlotte DeFrance celebrates her birthday with daughter Lanis Curtis and granddaughter Shelia Brownfield on Sunday.

NEW ULM — Charlotte DeFrance celebrated her 100th birthday, Sunday, January 24.

She celebrated her special day with a small family gathering. Even at 100, she continues to live independently and care for herself. For the past six years, DeFrance has lived at the Highland Regency House, an independent senior apartment community. She moved from the farmhouse to be closer to her daughter Lanis and granddaughter Sheila.

Looking back, DeFrance had a difficult life. Her husband passed away when he was just 28 years old leaving her to raise two small children. She was a school teacher for 24 years, teaching fifth grade for 18 years in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, a year in Montana and a few years at a country school.

Lanis shared a story her mother has often shared from when she was teaching at the country school. Some boys decided to crawl out the window and escape from school. When they hit the ground, Charlotte was standing there. She probably was not much bigger than they were. She told them, they better get back to schoo, and they scrambled back into the building.

Asked for advice she had learned in her century of life, she said:

“Forget about everything but living. Enjoy life and what you have because you don’t know how long it will last.”

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