Baraboo 100-year-old welcomes namesake
Millie Peterson says the key to long life is simplicity. Well, that and naps. Lots of naps.
The Baraboo retiree turns 100 Tuesday and plans to celebrate with fellow residents of Meadow Ridge Assisted Living. This weekend, family is coming to town to ring in Peterson’s second century.
“I am a simple, plain, ordinary person,” she said.
Peterson confesses that even at 100, she remains a bit boy-crazy. She isn’t shy about giving a male visitor the eye. “I keep telling myself, ‘You’re an old woman. Shape up!’” she said.
She has witnessed many changes over her century of life, including watching classic names like hers — Mildred — become antiques. But some such names are making a comeback, with help from Peterson’s granddaughter Taylor Peterson, who recently named her baby daughter Millie.
“I think this is fantastic,” the centenarian said. “I should live another 100 years.”
“Let’s take it 100 years at a time,” said another granddaughter, Baraboo dance studio owner Amity Meyer.
Peterson said she enjoys Meadow Ridge, where she gets to socialize with friends but also indulge in frequent naps. Those snoozes, in addition to a low-profile lifestyle, play a role in her longevity. She even takes a low-key approach to her 100th birthday. “It just happens, like any other birthday,” she said.
Born April 9, 1919, in Trempealeau, Peterson came to Baraboo in the 1940s. She and electrician Herman “Pete” Peterson raised four children. She has never undergone surgery, and still has not only her teeth but sprouts of black hair mixed in with the silver. “She’s kind of a freak of nature,” Meyer said.
Peterson sometimes struggles to remember names, but remains a charmer with a ready smile and an infectious laugh. Her offhand observations could fill a book of affirmations:
“You can make a bad thing good by thinking good about it.”“You have to learn to accept what is, and not ask for something else.”“I either have to conquer it or live with it.”
With two birthday parties planned this week, she’s due for a nap or two. “That is something that really surprised me,” she said. “It just makes me feel good people are thinking about me.”
Such festivities are a break from her three-times-a-day routine, which involves dining, checking her teeth in the mirror and taking a nap. There is beauty — and longevity — in simplicity. “A lot of people are headed for 100,” she said, “but they don’t quite reach it.”