Bio: Herr, Martha (Niemi) (100th Birthday - 2009)
Contact: Robert Lipprandt
Surname: Bauer, Hemersbach, Herr, Klinke, Niemi,
----Source: The Tribune Phonograph (Abbotsford,
Clark Co., WI) Wednesday, August 26, 2009, page 12
Herr, Martha (Niemi) (100th Birthday -
August 22, 2009)
Colby woman reaches century mark
Martha Herr celebrates 100 years with family,
Martha Herr celebrated her 100th birthday in
grand fashion last weekend with parties Saturday at the family farm
in rural Greenwood and Sunday at Colonial Center in
Martha (Niemi) Herr was born Aug. 22, 1909, in
DeKalb, Ill. She has been a resident at Colonial Center since March
Many friends and family members, including her
two children, Marianne and Francis Jr., grandchildren and
great-grandchildren, gathered on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to
reminisce with Martha about her rich and wonderful life. Special
guests included Dickie (Klinke) Bauer and the daughter of Hedi
Hemersbach. Both families are special friends who farmed nearby for
youngest of four children, Martha was raised with two brothers and
one sister on the family farm near Longwood, where her parents from
Finland finally settled. Her mother Maria (Saari) Herr passed away
when Martha was nine years old, so her older sister was given the
job of caring for the family.
Martha attended the Longwood School through the
eighth grade. She married Francis Herr Sr. in 1929 and continued
her calling as a farm wife. She worked hard alongside her husband,
never complaining, doing everything from caring for pigs and
chickens to milking cows and tending to a huge garden. She loved to
crochet and sew, eventually becoming a 4-H sewing leader as
Marianne was growing up.
found time to participate with the St. Anne’s Society at St.
Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenwood, cooking for many special
events including funerals and weddings. Martha was an absolute whiz
at crossword puzzles.
Marianne said her mother’s health has been
"She only had one surgery in her life, and that
was when she was nine years old, to correct an eye muscle problem,"
she said. "Mom has been really lucky. She refuses to acknowledge
had a huge garden every year, including cucumbers, beans and
berries. If you can pick it, we picked it. Dad loved to fish and
Marianne described a small vase she has at her home in Fountain Valley, Calif. At the age of 10, Martha purchased the vase for 25 cents at the Neillsville fair. Her dad took the whole family by horse and buggy and gave each child the same amount of money to spend.
"Her brothers blew their money on food and rides,
while mom wanted something to keep to remember the fair," Marianne
Martha and Francis Sr. started farming in the
Great Depression. If they didn’t have money, they
didn’t get things, and they refused to borrow
"I guess you could say they had kind of a Depression mentality," Francis Jr. said.
addition to the barn in 1969 allowed the farm milking operation to
grow from 37 cows to 72 cows. For a time the Herrs owned 300 acres
of land and rented additional land to plant crops, Francis Jr.
Martha and Francis Sr. built a house just up the
road in 1979 and retired from farming, selling out to Francis Jr.
For many years they traveled to California for Thanksgiving, and
Marianne and her family took them to Hawaii twice. On other
occasions they visited relatives in Illinois.
Francis Sr. passed away in 1997. Martha then
moved to the Greenwood River Senior Apartments, where she resided
for almost 10 years. She then began her stay at Colonial
Martha couldn’t get over how many people
attended her birthday party. The last time everyone got together at
the farm was for her 90th birthday, she said.
Colonial Center also featured a celebration
Sunday afternoon with special music and a huge birthday
"It sure was a lot of fun," Martha said.
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