LIMA — Julie Margarite Gunderson celebrated her 100th birthday Jan. 1, 2015. She celebrated her 100th birthday at a party that was held for her at Believer’s Christian Fellowship on December 28, 2014.
She was born on Jan. 1, 1915 to Norwegian immigrants in Sisseton, SD. She was the seventh of nine children born on a farm 15 miles out of town. She helped milk 17 cows by hand morning and evening. She had to walk the one and a half miles to school each day, carrying her lunch in a pail. Money was hard to come by, so she trapped gophers to earn extra money. She completed eighth grade at the one-room schoolhouse, then graduated from Sisseton High School in 1934. Her jobs included cleaning and working as a waitress until she married Victor Steen in 1939. Their first home was in Farwell, MN where they were blessed with a son, Curtis Steen and a daughter, LouAnn Steen. Victor sold and repaired sewing machines in eight states moving the family often. Julie helped out by making doilies and doing mending for people.
After Victor’s death in 1979, Julie remarried Marian Gunderson in March of 1981. They made their home in Twin Falls, ID. Marian had 4 grown children and grandchildren at the time. He was a farmer and sheered sheep for extra income. He lived just two short years and passed away in 1983. Julie had her own apartment, then joined her daughter’s family and moved on to Arizona in 1994, where she lived in Senior Citizen’s housing in Show Low, AZ. In 2004, she moved in with her daughter’s family when they moved to Lima.
Being the last living member of her family, Julie is blessed to have two children, nine grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. In addition, she has four step-children, 17 step-grandchildren and many more step-great-grandchildren from her second marriage.
Gunderson has written poetry for years starting in the one-room schoolhouse so long ago. One of her poems, “He Knows The Way” was published in 1993, winning a special honor as the Editor’s Choice Award.
Today, Gunderson resides at the Lima Convalescent Home. She loves to have visitors and will be happy to recite a poem or tell of days gone by.