Her rule is that the family can only celebrate her birthday every five years. They had a big party for her 105th birthday, but that was two years ago. This year was a much smaller party, with close family and a little cake and ice cream.
Zelda Stein turned 107 this weekend, quietly, and without fanfare. It was just another birthday.
If genetics are any indication, 107 may not be such a big deal. Zelda's mother, Luella Petty, lived eight and a half months past 107. "Grandma Petty," as she was known to many in Kimball, lived on her own since being widowed in 1953. She moved to Hilltop Care Center in Watkins when she was 100, and still holds the record for being the oldest resident there.
"Lue" and "Nute" Petty had eight children; two died in infancy, but five were still alive when Lue died in 1986. Zelda is the last of the Petty children still living.
In December 1986, Lue had 16 grandchildren, 39 great-grandchildren, 24 great-great-grandchildren, and two great-greatgreat-grandchildren. No doubt all of those numbers have increased in the 23 years since.
Zelda has been a resident of Cokato Manor since 2001, the fifth member of her family to live there.
A farm girl from Fairhaven, Zelda married David Stein and they farmed south of Kimball. She worked for awhile at Weber's General Store in Kimball. Their twin sons, Don and Dale, attended Kimball schools for 12 years. Both went on to college and successful careers. In fact, education was very important to "Grandma Petty" and all of her family.
Don and Dale came up from Arizona to spend some time with their mother. Don said that she was a little tired on her birthday because of all their visiting and playing cards in the days before. (Zelda still beats Don at Rummy, by the way.) Don's son Dan came out from Minneapolis for the party, and Dale's daughter Paula and her family came out from the Cities as well.
Zelda is still sharp as a tack. As son Dale says, not only is she 107 years old, but she knows she's 107.
She's pretty healthy, too. Don says her biggest problem is hearing loss, which sometimes makes communication difficult.