Second-oldest Minnesotan celebrates 108th birthday
“There wasn’t a tree tall enough or a horse fast enough,” says 108-year-old Ethel Satre when asked her secret for living such a long life. “Not being afraid of hard work and living happily.”
Back in 1908 Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the United States, gas cost 2 cents a gallon and coffee was 15 cents a pound. The Model T Ford and vacuum cleaner were invented, it was the first time a ball was dropped at Times Square signifying the New Year and the first Mother’s Day was observed.
Nineteen hundred eight was a year of astonishing inventions and breakthroughs that propelled America into the modern age. It was also the year that Ethel Avery, who is believed to be second oldest living Minnesotan, was born. The Centenarian shares her birth year with such famous people as Rex Harrison, Louis L ‘Amour, Bette Davis, Percy Faith, James Stewart, Estee Lauder, Nelson Rockefeller, Milton Berle, Lyndon B. Johnson, and “Baby Face” Nelson.
Ethel was born in Garrison, Minn., on June 28, the fourth eldest in a family of 11 children. She spent her formative years milking cows on her father’s dairy farm and also delivering milk. A self-described tom boy, she frequently rode her pony with no saddle and would be found climbing trees.
She dated Carl Satre for a long seven years; they survived the Great Depression and eventually married in 1934. The couple settled in Brainerd where Carl worked as a blacksmith for the Northern Pacific Railroad and they raised a daughter, Phyllis, and son, Glen. Ethel was a hard working homemaker who made hearty meals for her family, cared for the children, baked, sewed, and gardened.
She also worked for some years housekeeping for the Schaeffer family and was an active member of the Brainerd Garden Club. The harvests from Ethel’s extensive vegetable gardens not only feed her family but all of her neighbors as well. She was also very active in her church circle and led a bible study. After Carl retired, they spent many happy years together travelling across the country in a motor home.
Sadly, their son was killed in a snowmobiling accident in 1997 and at that time they moved from their long-time family residence to Woodland Senior Living. Carl passed away in 1999 and she continued to live there on her own until 2009.
When she was 100 years old, Ethel moved in with her daughter and son in law. In the spring of 2014, she became ill and relocated to Cuyuna Regional Medical Center’s Care Center. Today, Ethel sleeps and reads a lot but looks forward to her daughter’s daily visits as well as occasional trips to the Dairy Queen.
She also enjoys visits from her five grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren who live throughout the country. Ethel frequently goes back and forth with a few giving them grief while they tease each other. Her pastor also regularly visits and after he gives her communion, they enjoy provoking each other.
Her daughter says she is as easy going as can be and that in all her years; she has only heard Ethel get angry twice.
An avid reader, the alert and petite 5-foot woman recently sat in the Care Center’s Activity Center with her hair styled and nails polished delving into the daily newspaper surrounded by her daughter and a group of friends. Although she sat in a wheelchair she does walk.
“Aren’t we lucky to have such a nice place to live, they feed us so well here,” Ethel said to the other residents.
While she officially celebrates her birthday on June 28, family and friends will gather on Saturday, July 2, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Care Center’s Activity Center to share in her milestone. They’ll serve cupcakes for her birthday party visitors; Ethel hopes to enjoy her favorite dish–creamed asparagus on toast.