Kathleen Mikkelsen turns 102 on July 3

Photos and Article by Fred Steiner – originally published on the Bluffton Icon at http://www.blufftonicon.com/news/2017/06/30/kathleen-mikkelsen-turns-100-july-3

Kathleen Mikkelsen has a special birthday next week.

And, her only regret is that her twin sister, Geraldine, who died a few years ago, isn’t here to celebrate it with her.

On July 3, Kathleen, a Mennonite Memorial home resident, turns 102.

She grew up on South Main Street Bluffton and graduated in the BHS class of 1935. The class had 75 members. Although in 1939 she married and moved from Bluffton, she never left home.

“Gerry (who remained in Bluffton) and I wrote each other weekly all of lives,” she said. In 2008 Kathleen returned to Bluffton to be with her sister who was ill. She’s lived here ever since.

Kathleen said that she and her twin dressed alike and did everything together. Their mother, a seamstress by trade even sewed both wedding dresses that matched.

Both her parents spoke Swiss at home and when she and her sister entered the first grade they could hardly speak English.

Her parents were Chester and Mildred (Badertscher) Stauffer.

Kathleen is the oldest area Bluffton HS graduate, but classmate Margaret (Triplett) Bixel, living in Connecticut, is also still living.

Although she has lots of stories from Bluffton’s past, her life’s attitude is: “Forget the past – go to the future.”

But when pushed about the past, stories come rushing out:

Relating the story of she and her twin’s birth, Kathleen said that both names were on the same birth certificate. That became a problem when it became time to sign up for Social Security.

And, thinking back to the Bluffton of her childhood, Kathleen recalls lots of interesting experiences.

These include:

• Roller-skating on the newly paved Grove Street as a youngster. She said many Bluffton youth did this during a roller-skating craze because the street was so smooth.

• Running along side the Western Ohio Railway interurban cars as they passed her house on Main Street.

• Appreciating her parents’ garden, which took up most of their back yard. She said that her family canned everything from the garden.

• Playing viola in the Bluffton High School orchestra.

• Growing up in the St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed Church (UCC today).

As we left our interview Kathleen was busy opening birthday cards she recently received and just then the telephone rang. It was Joyce Badertscher calling to wish her an early happy birthday. Joyce’s husband Maynard, was Kathleen’s first cousin.