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Senior Living CommunitiesSheldon resident celebrates 100th birthday | News | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors

Sheldon resident celebrates 100th birthday | News | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors

SHELDON—A quilt with 46 patterns — consisting of golf balls, Rus Farms, Minnesota Vikings and many more — hangs in Hazel Kuiper’s room at Fieldcrest’s Senior Living Community in Sheldon.

Her granddaughter Rachelle made the quilt. Each pattern has the name of one of her three daughters, 11 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great-grandchildren. The patterns represent each person in some way.

“I know Diana is the one with barns,” Hazel said.

Hazel Kuiper celebrated her 100th birthday at Fieldcrest on May 17. Only .0173 percent of people live through a century according to GenealogyInTime Magazine.

“I keep faith in God and know He is at my side all the time,” Hazel said. “I didn’t do it on my own.”

On her table sits a collection of birthday gifts — a piece of paper with “100 words to describe you,” 100 pennies, 100 Hershey’s Kisses and 100 mints because she is a “mint of a lady.”

Across from those gifts sits a bouquet of flowers she received from her friends on her birthday. During the day, she wore a purple shirt printed with the phrase “100 and fabulous.” One friend picked her up at Fieldcrest and drove her to Cook’s Cafe where she met four other friends.

Hazel’s family surprised her the day before her birthday. She celebrated with them in her daughter’s garage, and by the end of the night, more than 40 relatives had shown up.

As someone who has lived a century, Hazel experienced the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and many other changes in American culture. Transportation has drastically changed throughout her life.

She remembers when she rode horseback everywhere. Even when she lived in Sanborn, the entertainment was in Sioux City. Drives there were special occasions but now people can hop in a car and drive anywhere.

“I’m just content,” Hazel said. “I tried to live my life to glorify God.”

Hazel was born on a farm in Webster County near Fort Dodge. During the Great Depression, the farmland provided food and work with cattle, chickens, milk and a garden. They could get by without going to town, but “we didn’t live ‘high off the hog,’” Hazel said.

Hazel met Albert “Bert” Kuiper on Sept. 30, 1940. They married Feb. 8, 1941, only four months after they had met. Six weeks after the date of their marriage, the military drafted Bert. He served in World War II for five years and then he and his wife settled down in Sanborn in 1945.

They bought a grocery store and locker plant, butchered their own meat and ran the store from 1945-82.

As they raised their three daughters, each daughter spent time working in the family business. Food Center, the name of the store, eventually changed to Sanborn Foods. The grocery store still exists.

“The person that runs it now, his dad started working in it when he was in eighth grade,” Hazel said.

She enjoys completing cryptograms, walking the halls of Fieldcrest and listening to music. While she collects many different albums, she gravitates toward classical and Gospel music. Andre Rieu, a violinist from Holland, is one of her favorites. She remembers hearing him live in Des Moines one year with a large orchestra. She loves his album “From Holland With Love.”

“She’s the humblest lady I’ve ever met,” said Fieldcrest Senior Living Community activities director Judy Wallace.

On the front of Hazel’s door is a wreath and to the left is sign that reads “kindness counts.” Within her room, one rose sits in a “God sends no stress that chocolate and prayer can’t handle” mug.

Sanborn Christian Reformed Church, Hazel’s church, sends her a digital copy of the sermon each week. Sometimes, she’s even able to attend in-person.

“I’ve been very blessed,” Hazel said. “I had a good bringing up, a good marriage, a good family and a good church family.”

Zac VanderLey of Auburn, WA, participated in the 2021 World Journalism Institute two-week summer course recently held at Dordt University in Sioux Center. WJI’s focus is to recruit, equip, place and encourage journalists who are Christians and to help them learn how to hone their skills for God’s glory. VanderLey, a senior at Dordt, wrote this story as part of the WJI’s hands-on learning experience.

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