News article in Elk River Star News, March 20, 2002
Family, Friends Say Good-bye to
Delvina Dahlheimer, 113
Delvina Mary (Morrisette) Dahlheimer was the wife of Phillip Edward Dahlheimer. Phillip was the son of Mary (Scherber) and John Dahlheimer. John was the son of Elizabeth (Starm) and Valtin Dahlheimer.
Family, friends say good-bye to Delvina Dahlheimer, 113
Posted: 3/20/02, by Susan M.A. Larson, Staff writer, Elk River Star News & Shopper
Family and friends gathered at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Dayton Monday to say good-bye to a woman who experienced the history most only read about.
Delvina Dahlheimer died Wednesday, March 13, at the Guardian Angels Care Center in Elk River. At 113 years of age, she was thought to be Minnesota’s oldest living resident and one of the oldest people in the world, according to nursing home officials.
Noted the Rev. Tom Margevicius, celebrant at the funeral Mass, “She was baptized in this parish before this church was put up.”
Everyone, said Margevicius, knows where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.
“The previous generation remembers the Kennedy assassination and the older generation remembers when World War II ended.”
Delvina’s memories went beyond.
“To remember Teddy Roosevelt and the opening of the Panama Canal and the turning of two centuries,” said Margevicius, amazed. “When a girl was celebrating her 11th birthday and later that night welcomed in the 20th century.”
Born Delvina Morrisette on Dec. 31, 1888, on a farm in Otsego Township, she was the daughter of French-Canadian settlers who came to Minnesota in the 19th century. Her first language was French, which she sometimes spoke with her younger brother when he visited her at Guardian Angels.
In October 1909, Delvina became the bride of Phillip Dahlheimer at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Dayton. He died in 1974 at the age of 85. Together the couple raised seven children.
Margevicius praised Delvina’s easy-going nature and humility.
“She was truly self-forgetting,” he said. “A truly humble person doesn’t think much about him or herself. When all the newspapers and TV cameras came out (for her birthday), she handled it with a remarkable nonchalance. She had a self-forgetfulness that gave her the ability to see others as they really were.”
Oldest grandson, Patrick McNeil, spoke of his grandmother with pride.
“How often I told others about her,” he said.
McNeil related how, after attending her birthday party in December, he attended a business meeting. When those at the meeting were asked to give an “ice breaker,” he wowed the crowd when he told them he had just come from his grandmother’s 113th birthday.
Delvina lived alone until entering Guardian Angels at age 101. She sewed her own dress for her 100th birthday party and even danced at the event.
“She was such a polite, calm lady,” said Sheila Suski, a nurse unit manager who has worked at the care center for 13 years. “She never got worked up about anything.”
At Delvina’s birthday party in December, her granddaughter, Marcia Heath speculated this was part of the secret to Delvina’s longevity.
Delvina reportedly died in her sleep last Wednesday.
“She had a very peaceful death,” Suski said.
“I was glad she didn’t have to suffer,” said Florence Johnson, who at 91 was Delvina’s oldest child. “I was happy for her, but at the same time it’s the end of an era.
“It wasn’t a sad thing, but it wasn’t a happy thing either because it was the death of a mother.”
Surviving Delvina are a daughter, Florence Johnson of Anoka; sons, Maurice of Champlin, Irwin of Elk River, Merlin John of Dayton and Douglas of Alexandria; a brother, Clarence Caron of Crystal; 34 grandchildren; 102 great-grandchildren; and 65 great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Phillip, and two of her children, Verna and Leon.
©Elk River Star News