Taking it up to 100: St. Paul Park's Gunderson celebrates big birthday with Harley ride
“I’ve got the best family in the world,” she said. “Every single one of them are good to me.”
That family includes three grown children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, not to mention nieces, grandnephews and grandsons-in-law.
You needed a scorecard to tell who was who.
“She doesn’t act like she’s 100, that’s for sure,” said her granddaughter Chris Redenius, wife of Cottage Grove Fire Chief Rick Redenius. Their daughter Ashley, 19, is Gunderson’s great granddaughter.
The guest of honor worked the room like a pro, cracking jokes and rising from her chair to greet friends and family. Niece Jolene Fox flew in from Texas for the party.
“I couldn’t make it for her 99th birthday,” said Fox, whose son Don traveled from Illinois to be there.
“I had a good life,” said Gunderson, who was born in Prescott during the Woodrow Wilson administration. “We weren’t rich but we had food.”
She was raised with three sisters.
“That was out in the country,” she said. “We had a great big barn. Mother had one of those washing machines with a hand crank.”
She recalls being startled by a sound overhead one day when she was 6 or 7. It was the first time she’d seen an airplane.
“We were out in the yard playing one day, my sister and I,” she said. “It flew low overhead. You could see the pilot’s face. We were scared green.”
Gunderson, who beat cancer three times, received a 100th birthday card from Logan Gullickson, 9, of Hudson. Logan has a terminal form of muscular dystrophy, his mother Constance said. One of his wishes was to meet someone who was 100 years old.
It’s become a family tradition for Gunderson to take a motorcycle ride on her birthday.
The party moved outside, where guests snapped photos of “Ge-Ge” astride a Harley-Davidson driven by her grandson Ken Kopren.