Vivian Minard - 101 years young

Vivian Minard celebrated her 101st birthday on June 4. "I feel just the same as I used to. I just have a few more aches and pains," she said.

Minard was born in 1908, to Clarence and Julia Hetland near Oldham, SD, and was an only child. When she was five years old, her family moved to Montana for land claims. At that time, if someone planted a crop on the land and lived on it for a period of time, they could own the land at no cost. This was the Homestead Act put into effect by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862.

Vivian stated there were very few children in the wilds of Montana. "I mainly rode horses, played with the dogs, and herded sheep. To me, that was fun." At school, kids played games, games that Vivian cannot remember, but she does remember that after high school and college, she became a fan of swimming.

Minard attended first and second grades in Madison, SD, where her grandmother lived. She attended third, fourth and fifth grades at Washington School in Milesville and then attended seventh through 12th grade in Howard, SD.

Her parents bought a home near Aberdeen, SD, and while living there, Minard's father was shot and killed by three robbers in Tacoma Park. In 1920, the Howard bank closed and Minard and her mother lost all of the money that her father had saved for them. "It wasn't a lot, but we thought it was," said Minard.

Minard and her mother moved to Howard, where she finished public school. Minard went on to Eastern State Teachers College, Madison, SD, and finished in 1928 with a teaching degree. Following college, Minard taught in Onida for four years and then taught in Redfield for three years.

Vivian recalls that her most memorable vacation was when many of the teachers went by bus to East Chicago, Quebec, Canada, down the east coast, and ended in Texas. Three teachers from Redfield were part of the trip, while the others were from other towns, but all were from the midwest. All of the teachers could receive history credits if they wished. She remembers they went to Boston, New York, Augusta, Florida and even took in an exhibit with glass flowers at Harvard University. "They were beautiful flowers, too," she recalls.

The late 1920s and early 1930s were the era of the Great Depression. Minard was teaching second grade. "It got so dark out from the dust storms that the parents started taking their children home because they didn't want them walking alone.

"The biggest hardship our family faced during the Great Depression was the Howard bank closing. We lost all the money that we had," said Minard.

She thinks that the Great Depression didn't affect this part of the country as badly as it affected other parts. "Without money, no one can do much, but that still applies today. I think back and it is funny that during the Great Depression, I bought a fur coat, which I really didn't need. There were just so many other things that my mom and I needed, that I shouldn't have bought it. I simply didn't need it," she said. She recalls going to 25 cent movies and getting paid $80 per year to teach. At that time $80 was a lot of money.

She met her husband, George, while teaching in Redfield where he was working as a pharmacist. George was originally from Midland. In 1936, the day they were married, they moved to Minneapolis. George started working at Parpe Davis, where he did pharmacy work. Vivian worked at a department store, she thinks because she wasn't qualified to teach in Minneapolis.

While heading to California for a vacation, the couple visited friends in Midland. Those friends told George there was a drug store for sale. After their trip, they purchased the store and opened Philip Pharmacy in 1949.

Women were not allowed to work in South Dakota, something Vivian doesn't know the answer to, so Vivian spent her days taking care of her two children, Janet and Julie.

George passed away in 2002 when he was 93 years of age. Vivian now resides at the Philip Nursing Home.