A Happy 100
Just seven years ago, the Faribault County Register reported on a local “everyday hero” by the name of Clara Holmseth. And now that everyday hero has recently turned 100 years old.
The story told of a young lady by the name of Clara Henderson who worked around the Frost area assisting farm families with daily chores, cooking, laundry, and the like.
Young Clara would get up at 4 in the morning to prepare breakfast for farmers and their farmhands, would help with linen washing and ironing underwear.
In her years as a young working girl, Clara reflected on the many different tasks she learned to do. Though she was paid very little in wage, it seems she was paid abundantly in knowledge.
At just 18 years old, she was given the task to assist a mother of five children. The mother’s name was Alma Holmseth and she was married to a man named Lawrence Holmseth.
Alma and Lawrence had a six-year-old, a five-year-old, a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and an infant, which was a painstaking task for Alma. Which is where Clara came in, during the winter of 1935, to help Alma with the children.
By spring of 1936, Alma had passed away from complications due to pneumonia and Clara had taken work elsewhere while Lawrence Holmseth hired a married couple to help with the family in Alma’s presence.
“She was a wonderfully pleasant woman,” says Clara of Alma. “She and I would sew clothes for the kids together.”
While Clara continued to work at a local hatchery and weaving rugs with her mother’s loom to bring in a few extra dollars, she kept in touch with the Holmseth family.
On one of her visits, Clara was shown by one of the young Holmseth boys how much she was missed. And Lawrence realized how vital Clara’s connection to the children had become.
He asked her to marry him. And she accepted the proposal at 24.
Throughout the years, Clara Holmseth raised the four boys and one girl as her own, ever-remembering Alma was missed by everyone, including Clara, everyday.
Clara continued to raise the family while Lawrence did custom corn shelling in Frost. She continued to work as well, cooking at the Frost cafe, and kept up with her own activities which included making loom rugs, quilting, and, of course, making angel food cake, lefse, and kringla.
Clara learned every talent when it comes to making Norwegian delicacies from her mother, who was from Norway.
“I love lefse,” says the 100-year-old everyday hero, whose advice is to always eat healthy.
Holmseth enjoyed many other activities as the years continued on, but now things have slowed down quite a bit for her.
A resident at Nicollet Place in Blue Earth, Clara is visited by her family members at least once a day.
After recently recovering from surgery for an ulcer, Clara says she is feeling better, but also knows that she does not have as much “pep in her step” as she used to.
“Now I just look forward to the little things, like visiting with my friends here at Nicollet Place and my family, and taking naps,” Clara laughs. “I enjoy naps now more than I ever did.”
And who wouldn’t? After waking up at the crack of dawn to cook for loads of family and friends before five in the morning in her early years, Clara’s naps are well-deserved.
“I admit that my energy level isn’t what it used to be, but it is nice to look forward to something everyday,” she shares. And that’s usually a visit from one of her step-children whom she raised as her own.
Chuck, Robert, Richard, and Jean the four surviving Holmseth children are now returning the favor Clara gave to them at the beginning of their lives.
The Holmseth siblings have kept watch over their Clara like she did for them when they were young.
“We do our best to visit Nicollet Place as often as we can,” said Jean on Clara’s 100th birthday celebration at the residence home on Nicollet. “She is a wonderful woman who has done so much in her lifetime.”
Clara has done so much in her lifetime for others, for her community, and for her family. She has exemplified what hard work and determination can do for a woman surviving in small-town Minnesota.
She has learned through many examples what it takes to get things done, and now she is the example for so many.
On May 28, a grand soiree was held for Clara and her 100 years of life. Family and friends came from near and far to celebrate with her.
On that day, Clara Holmseth had only one thing to report:
“I am having the time of my life.”