SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A building for seniors in east Sioux Falls is not a nursing home or even an assisted living facility, but nevertheless, it’s where Helen Schrader lives. She turned 106 years old on Friday.
“I feel very blessed,” Schrader said. “The good Lord has been good to me.”
Asked what her secret could be, she points to what she’s avoided.
“I’ve never tasted a drink of any kind, no beer no nothing, and … I’ve never puffed a cigarette in my life,” Schrader said.
Her vision has seen better days, but her hearing is excellent, all things considered. She takes one pill for her blood pressure twice a day.
“That’s the only prescription she has,” Schrader’s daughter Sharla Scholl of Sioux Falls said. “I know. It’s beyond belief because nobody believes that.”
Helen was born in 1917 shortly after the United States entered World War I. Her late husband Emert served in the Navy in World War II.
“I remember during the war, all the rationing, you couldn’t get sugars,” Schrader said. “I had to run a restaurant. There’s so many things that was rationed. That was tough.”
She and Emert had four children: two biological kids in addition to a niece and nephew whom they adopted.
“She’s always been very family-oriented and just will do anything for her family,” Scholl said.
“Dad was paralyzed all down one side, and I had three little kids and him all at once,” Schrader said. “I had to dress him, undress him. My husband bathed him, took care of him. He had a stroke.”
As of Friday, she has eight grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. From the Great Depression to the whole Cold War and the birth of the internet, she has seen so much, including a unique view from atop Mount Rushmore.
“They were working on those heads at that time, and they built … a wooden stairway all the way up there, and you could climb up those steps and stand on their heads, and we did that,” Schrader said.
You might be surprised to learn of someone turning 106 years old. You’re not alone.
“I cannot believe it either,” Schrader said.