'An Amazing Woman'
Ruth Siegenthaler drove a tractor, milked cows, cooked, cleaned, gardened, and helped her husband, Paul, raise two boys during the Great Depression.
She turned 105 in early June and remains feisty as ever.
"I think if this country would get its butt back in line, we'd be twice as strong as we are now," she says.
Her son, Ken Siegenthaler, 80, who attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, looks at Ruth in amazement as she rests in her room at Green Prairie Assisted Living Center in Plainview.
"Mother, you were a pretty amazing woman," he says. "You still are a pretty amazing woman."
A phone call interrupts their conversation. Ken answers and hangs up at Ruth's urging when it seems the call is a scam.
Ruth says she's heard all about the new scams, such as a boy claiming he's in jail and needs bail money from his grandparents.
"If a grandson's that bad, he'd better sit there," she says.
That no-nonsense parenting philosophy, Ken says, is one reason he was so successful. The Colorado Springs, Colo. resident retired in 2018 after teaching astronautical engineering for 16 years at the Air Force Academy.
"You're talking about not being afraid of hard work," he says. "They are the reason that I was born on a dairy farm in 1939. Nobody had any money. They made many sacrifices for me to get the best opportunities."
Ruth was born in Huron, S.D. in 1914. She met Paul Siegenthaler around 1931, when he farmed in the Huron area. They married in 1934 and they farmed in Wisconsin and Iowa before settling on a 320-acre farm about halfway between Potsdam and Millville.
They raised cattle, oats, hay, field corn and sweet corn, turkeys and chickens, and sold the hens' eggs to local grocers.
The Siegenthalers owned an F-30 Farmall and an
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