Centenarian sisters share secrets to longevity - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Centenarian sisters share secrets to longevity

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For centuries, humans have searched for the secret to living a long and happy life -- and Fox 9 News got some clues atop a hill in Rochester where some very wise, and very old, people live.

When Odelia Klinkhammer arrived on the Earth, a ship named "the Titanic" was getting ready for a fateful maiden voyage. Since then, she's seen 37,341 sunrises.

"I want to keep going as long as I can," she said. "So far, it's been good."

When she was 18 years old, the stock market crashed and sent America spiraling into the Great Depression. The next year, she came to Rochester, Minn., and landed a job that would keep her on her toes for the rest of the century.

At the age of 102, Klinkhammer is still fleet of foot -- and has been known to do a little dancing.

"I walk a lot," she said.

It's been a long time since anybody called her by her first name. In 1941, she joined a convent and took the name Sister Vera.

"If you can help people, that's what we're here for," she said.

For 72 years -- nearly three quarters of her life -- she has worked as a nurse at St. Mary's Hospital, and it was common for her to walk 12 miles a day. Nowadays, she easily logs a 5K cruising the halls of Assisi Heights, a home for the Sisters of St. Francis -- a religious order that could easily lay claim to the name "Sisterhood of Centenarians."

Sister Jaqueline Farrell has graced the world for a total of 54,515,520 minutes.

"I'm thinking I'm pretty close to the glory land and I better be ready," she said with a laugh.

Sister Jaqueline grew up in a house with 5 brothers.

"I did do everything the boys did -- even boxing," she recalled.

Another nurse who spent seven decades at St. Mary's join the centenarian club last month. For fun, they brought in a fire extinguisher to blow out the candles.

What's more, there are two more sisters who also cleared the century milestone -- and the sisters say apart from coming from solid Minnesota soil, they believe a lifestyle focused on serving others is what helps them find peace and happiness amid the chaos of life.

Yet, there's also something to be said about having a strong support network. The nuns rarely eat alone, and they stay on top of current events together. They also adhere to a diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables.

"And a little wine every once in a while is good," quipped Sister Vera. "Or a glass of beer. I think that all helps."

So, too, does exercise. The sisters try out anything they can, so while it's remarkable that five women can share more than 500 years of living in between them, they're also eager to welcome others to their ranks.

Sister Lauren hopes to join the club in 7 years, and she hopes Sister Antoine will be around to throw the party. There may be many in the future. After all, 25 of the sisters are currently in their 90s.

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