Esther Patterson’s life philosophy is pretty simple.
“Just keep going,” said the long-time Britton resident, who will be celebrating her 100th birthday on Sunday. “There’s no secret. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change anything. You can’t go back.”
She was honored Sunday, March 31, with an Open House at Wheatcrest Hills in Britton. She is the mother of Ron Patterson and Luanne Jensen, both of Britton, and has five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Friends and family have been helping to celebrate Patterson’s life the past few weeks by performing 100 Random Acts of Kindness. Granddaughter Paula Conard of Moorhead, Minn., came up with the unique idea.
“I visited with her recently and she said she didn’t want or need anything for her birthday, but it got me to thinking what I could do to celebrate her 100 years,” Conard said. “She has been involved in the community her whole life, and although she can no longer perform charitable acts very easily, I knew there were at least 100 people who could.”
She put out a call for people to let her know of an act of kindness so that she could compile the list of 100. And it didn’t take long. Those acts of kindness ranged from visiting residents at Wheatcrest Hills to baking for the neighbors to donating to the food pantry to buying a stranger a cup of coffee. One person shoveled a neighbor’s sidewalk, another donated blood, and another pulled a car from a ditch.
“Esther’s family and friends really got into the spirit of doing random acts of kindness for others and made this world a better place to live just as Esther has in her 100 years of life,” Conard noted. “Thanks to everyone for their generosity.”
Esther Witte was born in Ida County, Iowa, on March 31, 1913. The third child of 12, she held her own with nine brothers and worked on the farm. She married Harold Patterson in 1934 and the couple moved to Marshall County in the fall of 1940.
“We were working for a farmer in Iowa and Harold’s brother lived in South Dakota,” Patterson recalled. “We had a chance to get started in farming in Marshall County, so we moved.”
She said she was still driving farm equipment until she was 80 and still looks like she could handle a tractor. Patterson moved to Wheatcrest Hills in 2009, gets around well with the aid of a walker and is a bit hard of hearing, but still mentally sharp. In fact, she said she had participated in an exercise program for four years and just decided to quit a year ago.
“I really didn’t think I would live to be 100,” Patterson admitted. “I had some close calls. But I can still walk pretty good and feel lucky. There are so many that have to be in a wheelchair.”
Patterson has always been active in her community. A long-time member of First Lutheran Church, she has helped make hundreds of quilts for charity, rolled tons of lefse for the church bazaar, and shared her flowers or homemade strawberry jam with anyone in need or people who just happened to stop by. Family favorites were her strawberry preserves, date-filled cookies, caramel rolls and wonderful desserts.
That sincere caring for others still is evident today.
“As a child, I knew Esther and always thought she was one of the nicest, kindest people I knew – and she still is,” Wheatcrest Hills Administrator LaVonne Furman concluded.
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS IN HONOR OF ESTHER PATTERSONS 100TH BIRTHDAY
1. Dwite & Janice Krizan, Britton, visit Wheatcrest Hills 5 days a week.
2. Rose Kraft & Kevin Kraft, Britton, took Girl Scout Cookies to Wheatcrest Hills to honor Esther. As a young boy, Kevin used to go across the road to Esther’s house for cookies almost every day.
3. Bev Owen, Watertown, baked cookies and cake for her neighbors as she remembers rolling lefse and singing in the choir with Esther for many years.
4. Lori Farber, Britton, baked English muffin bread and shared it with friends & neighbors.
5. Doug Card, Britton, ran an article in the Marshall County Journal to honor this event.
6. Gail O’Brien, Britton, put an announcement in First Lutheran Church newsletter.
7. Pam Moeckly, Britton, took a person with Alzheimer’s disease out to lunch.
8. Shelley Joplin, Denver, CO, collected 225 canned goods for a local food shelf.
9. Colleen Kemp, Aberdeen, SD, picks up the mail for a disabled woman in her apartment building every day.
10. Michelle Lalonde, Fargo, ND, gave $2 off coupons to a dozen people in a restaurant.
11. Jeremy Harrison, Fargo, ND, was the designated driver for his National Guard unit.
12. Ashley and Emily Joplin, Denver, CO, made 100 cards for a nursing home.
13. Ann Swab, Fargo, ND, volunteers at the Humane Society every month.
14. Becky Conard, Moorhead, MN, helped her younger volleyball teammates learn a new skill.
15. Tyler Conard, Moorhead, MN, shared his snack with a child who didn’t have one.
16. Jeff Holmuth & Steve Ward, Moorhead, MN, helped shovel their neighbor’s driveway after she fell and broke her leg.
17. Matt Ward & Cole Nichols, Moorhead, MN, helped clear snow.
18. Sandy Hastings, Britton, took flowers to someone taking cancer treatments.
19. Mike Eaton, San Diego, CA, gave a parking space to another car that was waiting.
20. Joey Stowell, San Diego, CA, brought in neighborhood trash cans left at the curb.
21. Megan Stowell, San Diego, CA, bought coffee at Starbucks for the car behind them.
22. Tricia Patterson, San Diego, CA, donated 100 cans of food items to food bank.
23. Arlene Berger, Clark, SD, calls Bingo at Roetell’s Senior Center Housing in Clark, SD.
24. Kathy Allstot, Aberdeen, SD, donated non-perishable food to the Salvation Army in Aberdeen.
25. John & Kathy Bruce, Arizona, bought lunch for a homeless couple at McDonalds.
26. Sherry Rindy, Fargo, bought dinner for a single mom & her child.
27. Marge Price, Wheatcrest Hills, provided her two cents to honor Esther.
28. Terry Price, Britton, bought a cup of coffee for everyone who stopped into “Flowers and Fudge on Main” that day.
29. Janee Dehler, Lake Park, MN, bought two pair of shoes for children in need.
30. Steve Blondo, Moose Lake, MN, shoveled the walkway for someone to help.
31. Ainsley Blondo, helped a friend clean her kitchen instead of playing.
32. Julien Blondo, put a book bag away for his friend.
33. Karen Lammers, Fargo, ND, donated blood to United Blood Services and donated money to the Wolf family of Sioux Falls, SD, who were hit by a car with three of their four young children in the car.
34. Cheryl Asmund, West Fargo, ND, will be sponsoring a child’s tuition for her church’s (St Andrew Lutheran in West Fargo) Vacation Bible School Program.
35. Laurie, Britton, has donated blood, and found some missing items at Wheatcrest Hills.
36. Mike Olson, Moorhead, MN, bought breakfast for a veteran at the VA hospital.
37. MaryLou Gish, Chicago, IL, sponsored Tyler Conard in the Jump-Rope-for-Heart for the American Heart Association.
38. Ron Patterson, Britton, helped a neighbor look for lost items.
39-43. Connie Patterson, Britton, donated blood, took homemade buns to a neighbor, takes meals to neighbor on all holidays, opened the door for someone, and let someone know they had forgotten some items when checking out from the store.
44-47. Brad Heitmann, Eden, SD, stopped in to visit an elderly neighbor, pulled an out-of-state car out of the ditch, called someone to help a neighbor out of the ditch, and left a $10 tip for his waitress in Eden, SD.
48-53. Bridger Patterson, Britton, tried not to kick or hit others, helped put others clothes away, helped make others beds, picked up toys for Sophie, let Mom and Dad know when Sophie wakes up, and helps watch for the school bus for Brynlee.
54—60. Brynlee Patterson, Britton, holds doors open for others, helps people find things they lost, trying to tell the truth, worked on listening and following directions, helping her sister walk, reading for others at school and home, and helps others in class.
61-65. Sophie Patterson, Britton, shows others her smiles, allows others to love her, shows people how she walks and makes them happy, and gives kisses.
66-74. Ryan and Tawna Patterson, Britton, shared recipes, shared spiced nuts with a friend, washed dishes so others wouldn’t have to, gave a friend a ride, shared cupcakes with widows and older couples, pushed snow for neighbors, raised food items for the food pantry, picked up books after Sophie pulls them down, and helped look for lost items at our house and others homes.
75-77. Deb Bichler, Fargo, ND, helped an older veteran apply for VA benefits, stopped by to apologize to her 90 year old neighbor for being busy, and helped another neighbor file for paperwork for her deceased husband.
78-93. Jo Weir, San Diego, CA, bought coffee for car behind at Starbucks drive thru on three separate occasions, made coffee for everyone in her office building, brought daffodils for each lady in office, weeded the neighbor’s walk area, made a traffic break for car making a turn last minute, paid 3 parking meters that were expired, picked up after someone else’s dog at the dog park, bought in bagels to work, picked up trash by street, picked up trash in neighborhood, stopped lady and gave bag of food she had left in cart, gave parking spot to elderly driver, baked muffins for new neighbors and left on door step, and brought basket of fresh fruit for office.
94-99. Paula Conard, Moorhead, MN, bought lunch for all her employees, cleaned the snow off random cars in the parking lot at work, donated blood to United Blood Services, left change in a vending machine, sponsored Tyler Conard in the Jump-Rope-for-Heart for the American Heart Association, picked up a dropped cell phone in a restaurant & returned it to the owner, helped a lost veteran find his way to an appointment.
100. Paula Conard & Brad Heitmann left a $20 tip for their waitress in Lake City, SD.
101++. Joplin Family, Denver, CO, shoveled neighbors sidewalks, let people go ahead in line at the store, paid the parking for the person behind us at a basketball game, brushed the snow off all the teachers’ car windows at school, bought McDonalds for the car behind us, gave $100 gift card to a family in need, put quarters in downtown parking meters, donated our old DVDs to children’s hospital, babysat neighbors kids and gave the parents a gift card for dinner, walked the neighbors dogs, made art for our local senior center, brought neighbors trash cans back up to the house after they were in the street, made dinner for a family who lost a parent, collected newspapers for the animal shelter, brought neighbors cookies…all 14 of them, collected newspapers and mail for a neighbor who had surgery, Emily gave half her lunch to a friend who forgot hers, Ashley sent random thank-you notes to staff and friends at her school, sent letters of encouragement to 40 shut-ins from church, bought movie tickets for the movies for the people behind us, and bought dessert for an older couple at Texas Roadhouse.