Centenarian moved to Iowa after losing farm in Depression

Published 3:53 pm Saturday, October 10, 2009

The year that she was born, the first ever movie theater in the United States opened. Sugar cost four cents a pound. The life expectancy was 47.

Born in 1902, Mary Ellen Arndorfer died Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 in Adams, Minn. She was 107 years old.

“She was one of the last remaining members of her generation,” her son, Clarence Arndorfer of LeRoy, said.

Email newsletter signup

Mary Ellen was born Jan. 30, 1902 in Hanover, Kan., the daughter of Henry and Sarah (Koehler) Pieper. She grew up in Kansas, attending school and graduating from St. Joseph Catholic School in Olpe. She taught second grade at St. Joseph Academy until 1924.

On June 4, 1924, she married Edward Frank Arndorfer at St. Joseph Church in Akron, Colo. They began their married life together on a small family wheat farm, her son Clarence said.

They lived in Akron together and farmed until 1930.

“They lost their farm to the Depression,” Clarence said. “ So they packed up to start over in Iowa,” he added.

They farmed livestock and grain near Galt from 1932 to 1960, until they retired and moved to Clarion. In Clarion, she was a member of St. John’s Church. Ed and Ellen spent many winters in Edinburg, Texas where they made their home in Citrus Mobile Park.

Ed passed away Dec. 20, 1987.

In 1989, Mary Ellen moved into Rotary Ann Retirement Home in Eagle Grove, where she lived for 15 years.

“In her retirement she continued her hobbies of sewing, crocheting and knitting,” Clarence said.

In 2004, Ellen moved into the Adams Nursing Home in Adams, where she resided until her death.

She was a member of the Catholic Daughters of Americas.

When asked to describe Mary Ellen, Clarence said, “Simply, she enjoyed and loved her family very much.”

Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Edward; son, Francis; daughter, Norma; daughter-in-law, Lorene; four brothers and two sisters.

She is survived by her children, Jim Arndorfer and Gladys of Humeston, Iowa, Clarence Arndorfer and Joyce of LeRoy, Minn., Rosemary Laliberte and John of Chattanooga, Ten., Kenneth Arndorfer and Margaret of Austin, Minn., Roger Arndorfer and Helen of Woolstock, and John Arndorfer and Janet of Mankato, Minn.; 45 grandchildren; 84 great grandchildren; 23 great-great grandchildren; sister-in-law, Tillie Pieper of Swink, Colo. and many nieces and nephews.

A mass of Christian Burial was held Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009, at 10 a.m. at St. John’s Catholic Church in Clarion. Foust Funeral Home in Eagle Grove was in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be left to the discretion of the family.