3 Minnesota centenarians share secrets to living a long life

We love to talk about age, how to defy it, and how to find the fountain of youth. 

Perhaps we should all be looking in Le Sueur County for the answer.

Verna Zeigenhaggen turned 100 years old in February. The retired school teacher taught more kids in this county to count.

“I wore a dunce hat once because I talked - imagine that,” said Verna, laughing at the memory.

Many of her students came out to say Happy Birthday to her at a party on February 19. Many of her students are now in their 80's and she remembers them all.

“I call my head my treasure chest of memories and I like it because you don't have to go and look through a book or anything to find out what you want,” said Verna. “All you do is think about it and you can relive those days.”

“She was never married, but she considered all the children in her school her kids,” said Andrea Edel, Verna’s niece.

Funny thing is Verna isn't alone when it comes to living a long, healthy life.

Betty Majusiak is also 100 and over in Le Center, Marvel Harmeyer is 101 and they all feel pretty darn good. 

“I was still washing the dishes and picking up around the house you know,” said Betty.

“I don't think I feel any different, just wish I could read and hear better,” said Marvel.

Verna, Betty and Marvel all graduated together from McKinley High School in 1933.

“We were all three country kids,” said Betty. “Marvel was close enough she could walk to school. She had a mile or so but she could walk.”

Maybe the country life is part of their secret.

“She's always been a healthy person she drank milk, ate veggies and fruit, and walked to work most days,” said Kelly Nelson, Marvel’s granddaughter. “Worked until she was 76 [as a] grocery store clerk.”

They certainly all have a good sense of humor.

“And it isn't work that's going to kill you because I worked all the time,” said Betty.

When you think of their age and what they remember about their own grandparents, the past they are connected with is pretty remarkable.

“First of all it was Indian country in the big woods,” said Betty. “My grandfather, my great-grandfather came in from Illinois selling horses to the Indians around the lakes here.”

The future they touch is still developing.

For example, Betty has eight grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and many great-great grandchildren.

If there's a mystery about age to unlock, maybe these three hold some clues, but even they say they don't have the code. They've just done their best to live a good life.

“I had a good life, I had a good family, I've had it all,” said Marvel.

“I've enjoyed every minute of it,” said Verna.