If Nora Johnson were to count all her birthdays on her fingers and thumbs, she would need 12 hands.
Today she is 108.
Born Nora Huseby on March 16, 1892, in Brainerd, she now resides at Bethany Good Samaritan. And on Sunday, she celebrated her birthday a few days early with 50 relatives and six generations of her family.
Four of her six daughters were able to attend the party, coming from Arkansas, Arizona and Washington.
Johnson has lived a remarkable life. Her children believe she is probably the city's oldest living resident.
Her daughters said she loved to travel and visited distant points, including Norway and Hawaii. She made a point to visit each of her children's homes.
Not one for tea parties, Johnson has always focused on family and spent time with her nine children. She came from a family of 10 herself. And she understood the pain of loss. She was twice widowed. Her second husband, Oscar Johnson, died in 1956.
Now she reminisces with her family about the days when her mother dressed her in little white starched dresses.
When her birthdays did not need so many helping hands to count the years, she worked as a waitress at a lodge on South Long Lake and in Minneapolis at a cafe for the Northern Pacific Railroad. She married Blix Kyllingstad in 1912 and farmed in Brainerd and later moved to North Dakota. But Brainerd was missed and they returned in 1916. There were other moves between the farm and the city and a move to farm near Pine River. But the family always returned to Brainerd.
Johnson is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and a lifetime member at Trinity Lutheran Church -- where she was baptized and married.
Now after living in three centuries, she still goes to exercise class. Her daughters, Mardelle Parker, Maricopa, Ariz., and Carol Simonson, Tumwater, Wash., said she used to credit her longevity to her Norwegian heritage.
Now, Parker said her mother has a different answer, saying her long life is "'because my children are so good to me.'"
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