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Tracy Frank, Published August 27 2013

Her Voice: Centenarian says optimistic outlook key to her longevity

Her Voice is a weekly article about women in or from our area and how they make an impact on the world around them. If you know someone SheSays should feature in HerVoice, email Tracy Frank at tfrank@forumcomm.com.

FARGO – Loal Tufte of Fargo has a smile that lights up a room and a vibrancy that belies her 100 years.

The centenarian says the keys to her longevity are growing up on a farm and her optimistic outlook on life.

Tufte was born on a farm near Cooperstown, N.D., in April 1913. It had been raining, so the roads were wet and muddy, and the doctor was having a hard time making it out to the farm, she said.

“They were getting nervous,” she said of her parents.

Tufte’s aunt ended up delivering the baby. The doctor finally arrived about an hour after she was born.

Growing up, Tufte and her four siblings helped her parents with farm work. She learned to drive horses and helped with hay, she said.

She attended high school in Cooperstown and went to college at what is today Valley City State University to become a teacher.

After graduating, Tufte taught all grades in various rural schools for seven years before she married Oswald Tufte in 1938.

Tufte and her husband had three children, Fredric, Gail and Jon. She now has five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

They lived in Cooperstown, Mott, Big Lake, Minn., and Seattle when her husband served as superintendent.

Tufte’s family was a very outdoorsy group. They camped often and slept in tents. They even ran into bears from time to time, she said. When that happened, they would be really quiet and go into the car, Tufte said.

Tufte also taught Sunday school and participated in bridge club.

After her husband retired, they lived in Arizona for a few years.

Her husband of almost 45 years died in 1983. Tufte said it was their shared interest in people, traveling and camping that kept them happily married for so long.

Even when they didn’t share an interest, like hunting, Loal and the wives of her husband’s friends would go along to help chase the pheasants out of the corn fields.

“It was a fun sport for the guys,” she said.

To this day, Tufte remains active. She has been living in the Bethany retirement community in Fargo since 2009 and takes chair exercise classes every day, “including Sunday,” she said.

This past May, she was a model in the Women’s Health Conference Scheels style show. The event showcased fashion and inspiring stories of women in the community. Tufte said she’s never done anything like that before.

“It was something so new for me, a new experiment,” she said. “Everybody just clapped, and I just waved.”

Tufte even got a standing ovation as she walked around the room, modeling her outfit.

In addition to staying physically active, Tufte also maintains a positive attitude.

Tufte, who is Lutheran, said her faith is very important to her. Her daughter-in-law, Cathy Tufte of Fargo, said her mother-in-law is not a worrier.

“I didn’t really have anything to worry about,” Loal Tufte said. “We were a healthy family.”

She’s also someone who is always concerned about other people, Cathy Tufte said.

“She’s very loving,” she said. “She really lives her faith. I can’t remember ever seeing her get angry.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526