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Grace Bannon has been blessed with a long and healthy life, and emphasizes the importance of hard work and good friendships

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Grace Bannon recently celebrated her 100th birthday among family and friends.

Grace Bannon has seen a century of events in her lifetime, and she recently celebrated that 100th landmark with family and friends.

Grace has a large fan club, and her niece, Nancy Frosaker, with the help of many friends, graciously held two birthday celebrations last weekend to add to her lifetime of memories. Grace lives in the home that she and her husband shared since 1950 until his passing, and she keeps her home immaculate. Upon a visit last week, she was busily adjusting her easy chair, to the protests of her niece and friends. She has also enjoyed a lifetime of good health.

Grace, with her easy smile and gracious hospitality, shared some of her most precious memories. She comes from a long line of Norwegian blood, on both her mother's and father's side (Asle Frosaker and Lesa Everson). Her family immigrated from Norway before she was born on Sept. 25, 1921, (Grace Geneva Frosaker). She had three brothers, Selvis, Arnold and Lloyd. She had one sister, Arline. The family grew up on a farm in Ross, Minnesota, in Roseau County, which is in the northern part of the state.

The Frosaker children attended elementary school right across the road from their farm. They learned a good work ethic from the time they were very young. Farm life required hard work, and Grace toiled in the fields with her brothers, while Arline helped their mother in the house. Among many other tasks, the family had the chore of milking cows and making butter.

"They came from a 100% Norwegian background, and so their work ethic was pretty strong as far as work, work, work," commented niece, Nancy Frosaker, of her aunt's strong work ethic.

Grace was quick to point out that once the work was done, they could have some fun. There are still some Frosakers in Minnesota, and there are also many family members in Norway.

"My brother and I have traveled to Norway a couple of times, and my mom and dad, and we have very strong ethnic roots back in a little town called Gol," added Nancy.

Grace and her late husband, Dale, also visited the family farm in Gol one time.

"It was special, and it was fun," said Grace.

The trip to Norway, which was the birthplace of her father, Asle Frosaker, was a dream vacation. She loved seeing the homeland that she had heard so much about. Grace cherishes her Norwegian roots and loves the Norwegian cuisine she grew up with, including Norwegian cookies, lutefisk, lefse and flatbread. In recent years, Grace has reunited with several Roseau County natives, who now live in Oregon, and they have a wonderful time at their gatherings.

Adult life after graduation

Grace graduated from Roseau High School in 1939 with a class of 46 students. During that period of time, there was not bus transportation, so she boarded with a family in Roseau, which was 12 miles from the farm. After graduation, she attended Aaker's Business College for two years in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She worked as a bookkeeper and secretary in Grand Forks and also in Badger, Minnesota.

She was working in Baudette, Minnesota, when she met Dale Bannon.

"I happened to meet somebody and married him," she said of her husband, Dale.

They were married in 1947 in Ross, Minnesota, in a small Lutheran Church. Church was a big part of her family life and continued to be so the rest of her life. Dale and Grace were active in community and church affairs. Grace was baptized and confirmed at Concordia Lutheran Church in Minnesota and has remained a member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Prineville. She sang in the choir, served on the church council, and continues to be active in women's activities at the church—as she has for 74 years.

Immediately after they were married, Grace and Dale found employment in Prineville. Dale worked for Prineville Sand Gravel for approximately three years, then went to work for Ochoco Lumber from 1950 until he retired in 1985. Grace began as a bookkeeper for the Central Oregonian, then took a job at the office of Mid-State Manufacturing Company.

Their son, Jerry, was born in 1947, and Grace stayed home with him for several years. She eventually went back to work as an invoice clerk/bookkeeper for Alexander Stewart Lumber Company from 1956 to 1959, when the company closed. It was in 1960 that Grace began her career in the Crook County Clerk's Office, first as a deputy clerk. In 1970, she was elected as Crook County Clerk and was re-elected three times, until she retired in 1985.

During her tenure as county clerk, Grace saw many elections—and Crook County was a bellwether county the entire time she served. She would help in the courtroom to swear in the defendants and members of the trial. She was highly respected and won easily during each election.

"I've always worked hard, that's what has kept me going, I think," said Grace of the importance of hard work.

Life after retirement

In 1985, after Grace and Dale both retired, they became "snowbirds," spending many happy winters in Yuma, Arizona. They also visited most of the western, mid-western and southwestern states, as well as Canada and Mexico.

"Of course, there has been sorrow as well as happiness in these 100 years," said Grace as she reflected on those years.

Dale passed away in 2009 after a battle with lung cancer. Approximately one and a half years ago, Grace's sister, Arline Welborn, passed away.

Grace is thankful for her many blessings. She has enjoyed good health, and her son, Jerry, lives close by in Redmond. Her youngest brother, Lloyd still lives in Roseau, Minnesota, with his wife, Norma. She has many friends in Prineville, including her church family.

Nancy has come to visit her aunt throughout the years and cherishes those visits.

"There are so many memories for me coming and seeing these ladies," said Nancy of the close friendships of Grace's church friends. "Such a close friendship, and they get together for holidays, and they get together for each other's birthdays. They have been through good times, and they have been through bad times, and they have been there for each other."

Grace commented that she believes friendships are very important—and she gives that advice to young women. Her door is always open, and she has a lot of company.

Friend Carol Weberg commented that Grace is always moving fast, and she and her husband find it challenging to keep up with her. They chauffer her around town, and she "is always moving fast and always has," said Carol.

Carol lived on the same street when she raised her family. She added that Grace always had a beautiful home, and she always made delicate, wonderful cookies.

Grace is thankful for the many memories and the many friendships.

"Coming this far, I have been blessed. The secret to my hard life has been working hard," she concluded.

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