Dakota centenarian Lillian (Vietz) Krueger turned 102 in September. She is sharp and spry with future aspirations. At our most recent visit, she said with a laugh, “I want to live to be 117 years old.”
Krueger grew up on a farm in McClusky, North Dakota, with eight siblings—three brothers and five sisters. She was the third child. “People have small families nowadays. I only had two girls and a boy,” she said.
Krueger enjoyed farm life and attended a country school less than a mile from her family farm. When she graduated from eighth grade, she attended Sheyenne River Academy for a year and worked for the farm manager’s wife. “They wanted me to come back. I wish I had stayed at the academy. I liked it there,” she said.
Her sister, 91-year-old Ruth Fode of California, said Krueger was shy when she was young. “We grew up with a lot of love in a little country house with two rooms and a big porch,” said Fode. “There was no indoor bathroom, no electricity and no phone. The only running water was when we ran and got it.” She remembers one bedroom and a big kitchen-living room. “There were just beds here and there. As the children grew, bedrooms were added.”
Fode remembers that Lillian took care of Doris, the youngest sibling. One day, as they were washing clothes with water from the rain barrel outside, Doris—about four years old at the time—accidentally dropped the kitten in the barrel. “She started calling to Lillian in German about the kitty in the water,” remembers Fode. Krueger was able to rescue the kitten and dry and clean it, which made Doris happy again. “Lillian is a very caring person,” added Fode.
When Krueger married, she and her husband Arnold lived in Bowdon, North Dakota, on the farm homesteaded by his parents. Krueger enjoyed gardening, jigsaw puzzles and embroidery. “She does beautiful embroidery work still,” said Krueger’s daughter Jeannette, who currently lives with her.
“She says she wants to live until Jesus comes,” said Jeanette. “She’s not joking about living until she is 117. She hopes He comes soon.”