U.S. Church Member Celebrates 109th Birthday

Ann Bauer, from Berrien Springs, Michigan, has been always a learner at heart.

Raelene Brower, Lake Union Herald
U.S. Church Member Celebrates 109th Birthday
At Ann Bauer’s recent birthday party, her daughter brought her a cake with the numbers 1-0-9 and jokingly told her there weren’t enough candles to put on the cake. Ann laughed and said, “I guess you’re right. And that’s too many to blow out!” [Photo: courtesy of the Bauer Family]

Until just a few years ago, Ann Bauer was zipping around town in her car most days, running errands, shopping for groceries.

She lived independently in her own home in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States, until a fall four years ago and now takes up residence at a local nursing home. 

But that hasn’t slowed her down. If you were to ask her how she feels, she would tell you she feels great, just like she did when she was in academy.

At her recent birthday party, her daughter Raelene Brower brought her a cake with the numbers 1-0-9 and jokingly told her there weren’t enough candles to put on the cake. Ann laughed hysterically and said, “Oh, I guess you’re right. And that’s too many to blow out!”  

People who live 100 years or more aren’t rare anymore. A search of the e-Adventist database for Lake Union centenarians reveals a list of about 75 names, most of them women. Though the reasons aren’t clear, 85 percent of centenarians are women and only 15 percent are men, according to Boston University’s New England Centenarian Study.

An Explorer and Learner at Heart 

Ann, who may well be the oldest member in the Lake Union although we couldn’t verify this at press time, was born in 1914 in a sod house on the western prairies of North Dakota. Her mother’s family had immigrated to the U.S. from Russia around 1909, seeking freedom and an escape from their belief in an imminent revolution. Ann is the oldest of five children who grew up on a farm, but after graduating from high school, she traveled 600 miles to go to college to become a nurse.

In 1940, the day after graduating from nursing school, she married Al Bauer and they lived and worked in North Dakota, British Columbia (Canada), Wisconsin, and Michigan during their careers and raised a family of four children together.

Ann experienced and survived the Depression, two world wars, learning to drive when her oldest child turned 16 (they took driver’s education and their licensing exams together), and all the marvels of modern technology.

She was one of the first Tupperware dealers in the 1950s, deciding there was more flexibility in direct sales than shift work as a nurse. Over the next 42 years, she was “the Tupperware lady,” driving a station wagon and training dealers, as well as being one of the top 25 sales leaders in the U.S. for many years. Her primary motivation for her career change was flexibility with children at home and being able to pay for Adventist education from first grade through college, which she successfully accomplished! 

Always an Excuse for a Party 

Ann has always been a person of “great ideas.” Her early life was one of hard work and not much fun, so as an adult almost any reason was a good excuse for a party. Her family and friends were recipients of birthday parties, Christmas baking and wrapped presents. Laughter filled her home. She remembered birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestone events with cards.  

She has lived in Berrien Springs since 1966 and has loved being an involved community member. Some of her favorite traditions are the 4th of July parade, Camera Club, Garden Club, concerts, and traveling with tour groups. If it was happening, Ann was there.  

When she and her husband Al were newlyweds, the National Park System was in its infancy. They shared a goal of visiting as many national parks as possible during their lifetime. Family vacations with four children usually involved a “side trip” after a work-related convention or time spent camping in a park.   

In retirement, Ann and Al spent almost 20 years traveling in the U.S. and internationally, with travel to local and regional Michigan destinations and to every continent except Antarctica. They enjoyed getaways in their travel trailer, then a small RV for “snow birding” and meeting friends at various destinations.

Family, Friends, and Faith 

Over several decades they hosted high school girls playing in the Wisconsin state basketball tournaments, missionaries on furlough needing a temporary home, and then Andrews University international students feeling displaced and far away from anything familiar.

Some of Ann’s favorite activities have been sewing and crafts, gardening, and travel. She made a handmade quilt for each of her six grandchildren when they graduated from high school. She has enjoyed entertaining in her home and impromptu picnics at a Lake Michigan park where she could watch breathtaking sunsets.  

Ann has always been inspired to live a healthy life. She is a deeply spiritual person whose faith has helped her persevere. She has a positive outlook on life and a genuine interest in all it has to offer; she is truly a “lifelong learner.” She and her brother started the “120 Club” many years ago. When asked what that was, she said, “Well, based on science, if you take good care of yourself, there’s no reason you can’t live to be 120 years old!” It appears she has almost attained her goal. 

The original version of this story was posted on Lake Union Herald.

Raelene Brower, Lake Union Herald