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December 19: Supercentenarians

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A supercentenarian is a person who lives to be at least 110 years old. Once a rarity, the number of supercentenarians has grown steadily, and North Dakota has had its fair share.

On this date in 1988 Katherine Misialek turned 111 years old. Katherine was born in 1877 in Jaslo, Poland. She immigrated to the United States in 1902 and married Andrew Misialek in 1903 in St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Warsaw, ND. They farmed in Minto, Drayton, St. Thomas, and Auburn, before retiring in Grafton. The couple had 11 children, 9 of whom survived to adulthood. Andrew died at 70 in 1946. Katherine lived with one of her daughters until she was 107, when she moved into Lutheran Sunset Home in Grafton. She enjoyed crocheting, embroidering, and watching General Hospital. When asked how she lived so long, she simply replied, “hard work.” She died on November 11, 1989, only a month before her 112th birthday.

Coincidentally, as of 2022, the oldest living person in North Dakota lives in the same nursing home that Katherine Misialek lived in. Clarabell Demers turned 112 years old on November 3, 2022. She was born in 1910 near Oakwood. She married Frederick Demers in 1930 and farmed with him until 1944. They purchased a building and refurbished it into JR’s Bar, which she ran with her husband until his death in 1979. She claims that drinking 4 ounces of wine a day helps with her longevity. Clarabell has 3 children, 19 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, and 14 great-great-grandchildren.

The oldest living North Dakotan ever was Iris Westman, who died at age 115 on January 3, 2021, in Northwood. She was born in 1905 in Aneta.

Dakota Datebook by Trista Raezer-Stursa


Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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