Ashby couple avid gardeners in their 90sPublished 7:30am Monday, November 8, 2010
Loren and Helen Erie live in their own home, raise about 1,000 square feet of flower and vegetable gardens, harvest and preserve their produce, cook all their meals and maintain their Ashby home.
And both are in their 90s. The couple, married in 1942, have been married for 68 years.
Loren recently turned 90, a milestone he celebrated at the Harvest Inn on Oct. 30 with friends and family from all over the country.
Their secret to a long and healthy life? Many happy years spent traveling together.
When Loren retired in 1982, the two retained their apartment in Winterset, Iowa, but bought a motor home and traveled for 18 years, visiting every state in the continental United States and Alaska.
During their travels, the Loren and Helen, 93, visited every National Park west of the Mississippi River save one. Loren said their favorite area in the U.S. is the desert landscape in the southwest.
He remembers lying in mineral baths in California between every meal, and Helen brought back a glass bottle of brightly colored sand from Death Valley, which now sits on display on a table in their living room.
The two met in 1940 when Loren was transferred from Minneapolis to the new Coca Cola plant in Fergus Falls. Helen worked at Nelson’s Cafe, where Loren ate many of his meals. After they married in 1942, Loren had a job as a traveling salesmen — over the years, their residences included North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, where they eventually settled in Winterset for 34 years, from 1970 to 2004.
It was during those years the two traveled the country, until Loren was diagnosed with macular degeneration, an eye disorder that damages the retina, causing loss of vision. They sold their motor home and moved to Ashby, where their daughter Jolene Bescheinen, 68, lives.
Their second child, Steven, 63, lives in Connecticut, but he visited Ashby for Loren’s 90th birthday celebration. Loren and Helen also have eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Their years of traveling the country may be over, but the Eries continue to live independently in Ashby. Loren is able to move around the house and retains partial vision, but Helen acts as Loren’s eyes when he needs. Excluding winter months, both spend their days in their backyard gardens, where they raise rose bushes, flower beds and various types of vegetables. Helen enjoys cooking meals using their own freshly-grown produce, and Loren enjoys listening to books on tape.
“We have a good life here,” Helen said.