Vivian Minard celebrating 100 years of life

A full lifetime of memories ... Vivian Minard’s 100-year birthday will be on June 4th. Her celebration will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 31st, in the dining room of the Philip Nursing Home.

by Del Bartels

Vivian Minard admits that in the last 10 years she has become far more politically minded. She has even changed political parties.

But, she isn't too extremely radical, since it took her 90 years of living before she got around to the most recent 10.

Minard will turn 100 on June 4th, 2008. Her celebration will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 31st, in the dining room of the Philip Nursing Home.

In 1993, after telling one of her daughters that she wasn't going to drive anymore, she renewed her driver's license for another five years. "I changed my mind," Vivian said. In 1994, she decided to quit driving. "I didn't say that I was going to use the license the whole time," she explained.

Though she is originally from Minneapolis, she was often invited to visit her uncle and aunt during the summers when they were keeping up their teaching credentials at the University of Iowa. She loved it. Later, she attended Dakota State University at Madison to become a teacher. She then taught grade school for a total of seven years, first in Onida and then in Redfield.

While still a teacher, Vivian joined a group of other teachers to take a five-week bus tour to Quebec, Canada, down the eastern coast of the United States, through Florida, across Texas and back to South Dakota. "It didn't cost much, or I couldn't have gone," said Vivian. "I remember (taking) an old Kodak camera that my mother had. I don't know what happened to it."

Vivian took that trip just before she met George, the man who was to be her husband and who had also been teaching in Redfield for a full year before they met. She liked the younger man; he was exactly one week younger than she. After marrying in 1936, they often celebrated both birthdays by going someplace special for a quiet meal, just the two of them. Any birthday celebrations that included others were held at a different time.

George had been a science teacher, then worked for a pharmaceutical company. One summer, the two of them visited some of his friends in Midland, where he had grown up. They heard about a career opportunity. That fall, they came to Philip to take over the drug store.

"I remember that we had a hard time finding a house, but the postmaster then helped us find one," said Vivian. "In 1953, we built a house, which we still have. Our daughters stay there when they come out to visit.

"I really enjoyed it here," Vivian recalled about the years raising their two daughters, Janet and Julie. "I still enjoyed a little bit of teaching, because I substituted a bit at the Philip schools. I had Denny Kennedy as a student."

Daughter Julie said, "Her great patience was with all of us. She has a great sense of humor and sees the humor in situations. Many people learned how to improve their grammar while in our living room." Julie must have been impressed with her mother's love of teaching, because she is currently the Director of Training for the California Federation of Teachers Union. Julie's own son, Erik, is a MIT graduate and works for a computer company in San Francisco. He and his wife are raising three children.

Janet and her husband, Bob, live in the Los Angeles, CA, area. "I learned to love books because of my mother," said Janet. "I now have thousands of books that are causing my house to sink into the dirt out here.

"I remember Mom's patience," Janet continued. "Instead of issuing orders or simply telling us what to do, she always explained the reasoning and wanted me to understand the 'why' of things. I recall the very few times she got really mad, probably justifiably so. A little later she apologized to us for becoming angry. She set a wonderful example. Mom's patience, and apologizing for when she wasn't patient, both made a real impression on me."

"While George loved to golf, the girls and I loved to swim," said Vivian. "When we went someplace, the hotels would have swimming pools and we would swim. We swam a lot, mostly out at Lake Waggoner."

After the girls were grown, Vivian and George joined some family friends from Seattle to visit Ireland. "One of them was Irish, and the trip was real fun," said Vivian. Julie is amazed that her parents enjoyed "driving on the wrong side of the road for several weeks in Ireland." When Vivian was 78, she and her husband joined a large group to visit Japan. "We got to know most of them pretty well. We really enjoyed that trip. And, of course, we've seen Mexico and Canada," said Vivian. George passed away in 2002.

Vivian's eyesight is not what it once was. "Even the headlines take me quite a while to read," she said. "That is the thing I miss the most, reading books." The shelving in the headboard of her bed is full of books. One book, though, rests on the floor holding the door open to the world. Vivian smiled, "If I can't read it, I'll use it some other way."