Merrill woman reaches rare ‘supercentenarian’ milestone

Rose M. “Thea” Theissen credits her strong faith in God for the fact that she is celebrating her 110th birthday today (Thursday, Dec. 28).

Thea currently lives with her daughter, Audrey, in Merrill and still gets out and about to church, and to all of her great grandchildren’s concerts and events.

She is a member of St. Francis Catholic Church in Merrill. Thea served as a Grey Lady for the Red Cross in Fort Madison for 50 years.

She was born to Mary and Clement Schaefer in Breckenridge, Minn., on Dec. 28, 1907.

She married Elmer Theissen in 1929. Elmer owned a drug store in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Thea worked with him at the store. They were married for 62 years before Elmer passed away in 1991.

They had three children, Mary McElwee, Waukesha, Eleanor Wright, Battle Creek, Mich., and Audrey Anderson, Merrill.

Health and fitness have always been a priority for her. She also started walking and weight lifting in her 30’s. Being married to a pharmacist, vitamins were always important, she added.
She also enjoys praying, knitting, playing cards and reading.

In the United States, the known number of living people who had reached the age of 100 in 2015 was about 72,000. That’s 2.2 centenarians for every 10,000 population. Reaching 110, or supercentenarian status, is much more rare. Only one out of every 1,000 centenarians reach their 110th birthday.

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