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Woman celebrates 100 years; Her advice - ‘keep breathing’

Mildred Broadbent


Mildred Story Broadbent will celebrate a century of living Saturday, Aug. 17, Hubbard County her home throughout her life.

Pragmatic and independent with a wry sense of humor, the centenarian was born on Long Lake, in her great-aunt’s rustic cabin. Three of her great-aunts founded the Story Hospital in Mason City, Iowa in 1901.

The daughter of Rollin and Jennie Story grew up a mile from Hubbard. Her mother died when Mildred was 8 and she assumed the role of caretaker for her younger brother and sister on the farm.

She would graduate from Park Rapids High School in 1931 and attend teacher’s training, teaching in country school for a year. She resigned to care for her grandfather who’d suffered a stroke. “Wages weren’t that good,” she said of $50 per month. “He needed me more.”

Mildred married Gerald “Jake” Broadbent in 1936, the two becoming parents to seven. Her world revolved around taking care of kids and the garden.

“And I’ve done my share of milking cows and feeding pigs,” she said.

Originally settling on the Hubbard Prairie, The family moved to Park Rapids in 1944, their home on Henrietta Avenue was established long before the city burgeoned eastward.

“I wish I could go back there,” she said of moving to Diamond Willow in the fall of 2011 at a doctor’s suggestion.

“I haven’t liked that doctor since. I’d give anything to go back,” she said of regaining her independence, the house now “empty and lonesome.

“The first thing I’d do is make a pie.”

Despite her proclivity for homemade, she cheered the return of Twinkies. Mildred admits to having a sweet tooth. “If anything was good for me, I didn’t think it was good.”

Living a century within 10-mile radius is not viewed as confinement. “I was always content where I was. There was so much work to do, I couldn’t think about it.”

Mildred drove when her children were young but found it difficult when the young ruffians misbehaved in the car. She was grateful to turn over the keys when they gained licenses.

Through the years, she has been employed at Hafner’s for many springs and worked at the Fleet Store in Bemidji with husband Jake.

Embroidery now keeps her occupied. “And when I’m tired of that, I read or make cards,” she said.

Television viewing is minimal, unless a Twins game is on. “They finally got a pitcher,” she said of Andrew Albers’ win over Kansas City in his major league debut.

African violets line her window sill and the flowers in front of Diamond Willow are of her orchestration.

“I’m going to do it differently next year,” she said of the horticultural design.

The secret to living?

“Keep breathing,” she quipped.

A celebration of her birthday will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 at Diamond Willow. Cake and ice cream will be served. No gifts, please. Just memories.