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Rolling with the times at 105

Inez Acker, left, chats with former Green Bay Packer quarterback Lynn Dickey at the Golden Living Center in Superior on Friday. Dickey walked over to Acker to wish her a happy 105th birthday. (Jed Carlson/

Inez Acker got a pre-birthday surprise last week as members of the Green Bay Packers serenaded her with “Happy Birthday.”

“They gave me a cap,” said Acker, who turned 105 Saturday. Country living and farm work didn’t leave her a lot of time to follow Packer games. But it was a moment that left the normally private woman, and staff members, in tears.

“You made me get choked up,” Golden Living Center activities director Tina Anderson told her.

For Acker, it was a prelude to a family party Saturday with her 87-year-old daughter, complete with cake and great-great-grandchildren.

The birthday girl was born April 19, 1909, in Clark, S.D. She had three older siblings and one younger brother. They grew up in town.

“My dad was a mail carrier,” Acker said. “He went with horses to begin with.”

But there wasn’t much time for play.

“My mother was sick a lot and it turned to me to do a lot of the work,” Acker said. “She had arthritis; they called it rheumatism at that time.” The disease was so debilitating that she even needed help turning in bed.

Birthdays fell to the wayside.

“I don’t remember having anything special,” the 105-year-old said. “She was sick so much that I can’t remember having a party.”

Acker attended school in a two-story building in Clark through ninth grade. At that point, she stayed home to care for her mother full-time while her older sister finished school. She never went back.

In 1925, she married Ora Acker. The couple moved to Douglas County, Wis. in August 1933 with three young children. Their youngest was 3.

“My husband’s brother lived up here,” Acker said. “It was the drought and everything was so bad in South Dakota we came up here and we just never went back.”

They worked on a farm in Hines and then moved to Foxboro, where they ran a dairy farm. The family enjoyed going camping together and picking berries. When people ask Acker the secret to her longevity, she points to an active life.

“I say that it must have been that hard work,” Acker said. Anderson asked if her mother’s illness instilled a passion for activity in her. Maybe, the 105-year-old replied, but it certainly made her appreciate her family.

After retiring from farm life, Acker lived in Superior’s Regina Hill Apartments for 22 years. Now, she resides at Golden Living Center.

“It’s home to me,” Acker said.

She may have left the farm life behind, but the 105-year-old keeps active. Acker is the first one to the exercise room most days. There, she bikes for 20 minutes, then exercises using parallel bars. She doesn’t take weekends off, either.

“It seems like if I gave up for those two days, it’s hard to get back,” Acker said.

The 105-year-old enjoys reading the newspaper and Reader’s Digest Condensed books. She completes word puzzles and plays a wide range of card games. Some friends just taught her a new one recently.

Although she’s seen many changes in her 105 years, Acker couldn’t point to any specific one as the best.

“There’s too many of them anymore that I can’t keep track of any of them,” she said. “I just kind of go along with the times.”

And she tries not to complain.

“It doesn’t help matters any,” Acker said.

The Superior woman was mum on plans for a party next year. She takes each day as it comes, Anderson said. But Acker did reveal her favorite cake is angel food.