Ruby Jantzen, a resident at Lafayette Manor in Darlington, celebrated her 100th birthday April 8.
To her, this impressive milestone is just another birthday.
When asked if she had any special plans to celebrate living for a century, Jantzen only shook her head and replied, “Not at all.” She doesn’t feel that her 100th birthday is any different than her 99 others.
Jantzen was born on April 8, 1913 to Louis and Minnie Nodolf in the Town of Belmont. She was the second oldest of the four Nodolf children. Jantzen had two brothers: Harold and Roy and one sister, Mabel.
Jantzen has been a hard worker all her life, growing up in a time when the entire family was required to pitch in and help with chores and duties of all kinds at home. When Jantzen was 10 her mother died, leaving a lot of responsibility with Jantzen as one of the older children.
Jantzen attended Platteville High School and later attended college in Platteville as well as to become a teacher She ended up teaching in rural schools for a couple of years after graduating. But Jantzen said after a while, she grew tired of her work and quit teaching.
In 1935 Jantzen married Clarence Jantzen whom she had known nearly all her life, as he had been a neighbor of her family. They shared nearly 50 years of marriage together until Clarence’s death in 1984. The couple had two children, John and Judith.
The Jantzens farmed together in many different locations through the years, including Stitzer and the Platteville area before buying a farm in the Darlington area in 1946.
“I just loved it,” said Jantzen about the farming life. “I can’t think of anything about farming that I didn’t like.”
Jantzen especially enjoyed being outside with the large variety of livestock they had on their farms including dairy and beef cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, horses and goats. Jantzen said back then farms didn’t specialize as a certain type, like beef or dairy; they just had a little bit of everything.
“With farming there was never a dull moment,” she said.
Among Jantzen’s favorite memories are the times she spent working with and training horses and dogs. “I trained all kinds of livestock, but training the horses and dogs — that was such fun,” she said with a big smile.
Jantzen recalled a time with one of the horses when she didn’t hand out a treat when the animal did what she asked. She said the horse responded with a rather hard nudge to her face. “I didn’t do that again,” she said with a laugh.
But Jantzen didn’t stop at just working with the animals; she was also involved in a multitude of other activities in addition to farming and raising a family. “I just couldn’t sit still,” she said. “ I always had to be doing something.”
That is evident from the long list of activities and organizations with which Jantzen was involved. Jantzen was part of a junior church choir for 10 years, taught junior and senior sewing, did ceramics and crocheting, and helped organize and maintain a homemakers club for more than 30 years. Jantzen also refurbished furniture in her spare time and taught adult sewing classes as well.
Jantzen is of the opinion that all schools should still be teaching things like sewing and cooking to all of their students, boys and girls.
“They don’t teach that in schools anymore, and they should,” she said firmly. “My brother, Roy, could sew on buttons and sew up a seam. It helps to know how to do things like that.”
Jantzen’s advice to the younger generation of today is to do “less play and more work.” She believes that children should spend more time after school doing worthwhile work instead of just playing around or doing nothing.
Jantzen’s daughter, Judy Elzen, is the secretary of the Darlington Elementary/Middle School. Jantzen’s son John runs the home farm in the Calamine/Truman area.