Grafton woman celebrates 110th birthday on Election Day
Women of the United States won the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920.
Clarabell Demers of Grafton will be 110 on Election Day this year. She already has voted by mail. And her birthday will be celebrated on Tuesday with a late afternoon parade of friends. They will extend their greetings from outside the Lutheran Sunset Home where she lives.
My first visit with Clarabell was almost 20 years ago when she was in her nineties and still bowling with women in Grafton. She hated to give it up.
Always a hard worker, she also spent time volunteering. Friends say she likes listening to Lawrence Welk music. She loves bacon. She also enjoys a small glass of wine before she goes to bed.
Clarabell grew up in the village of Oakwood, which is just east of Grafton. She was a lifelong member of the Catholic Church there before going on to St. John’s in Grafton.
With her late husband, Fredrick, she helped run the JR’s bar at Oakwood. It has been known for its taco night on Wednesdays. But these days they are on hold because of the pandemic. The bar is operated by Clarabell’s son Donald and grandsons Guy and Gene.
Friends say Clarabell never has been one to let the dust settle under her feet. Grandchildren say she always did her own dusting and laundry.
Mary Ann French of Grand Forks remembers growing up in Oakwood as a niece of Clarabell Demers.
“Those were the days when television was new, and they had one in the bar,” she said. “Aunt Clarabell would let a couple of us hide in a corner and watch television. No one could tell we were there.”
She said Clarabell was always active. “She ran the steps up and down because they lived above the bar. It’s no wonder she has lived so long!”
Reach Marilyn Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 701-772-1055.