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Blessed with good genes

By Staff | Jul 23, 2009

Rugby’s Mel Blessum says there’s really no secret to living a long life.

In fact, he says he doesn’t have much say in the matter.

While God might be in charge of how long he’s around, 99-year-old Mel and his 98-year-old brother, Kermit, and their 97-year-old sister, Inez Thorstenson, consider themselves lucky to be in good shape.

“We’re getting up there. I guess we just have good genes,” explained Inez. “We’ve sure had a lot of relatives who have lived long lives.”

Good genes certainly do run in the family, as the siblings’ mother lived to 93, their father to 90, sister, Helen, to 95 and another sister, Gladys, to 93.

But soon Mel will enter new territory and become the first of the family to hit the century mark. He turns 100 on Sunday. There will be a celebration in his honor at the family farm, located on the south side of Highway 2 on the east edge of town where Kermit currently resides.

Kermit said he wants to stay on the farm where he and his siblings grew up for as long as he lives.

“We’ve always been farmers,” said Mel.

“But we grew up in the horse and buggy days,” explained Kermit.

The trio has seen many changes over years. Some notable ones, they say, are cars, telephones, washing machines, radio and television.

Mel thinks the transition from horses to tractors was certainly a big switch for farmers like him and his brother. “Things sure have changed. Work is sure easier,” he said. “If you look at the machinery now compared to what we had, it’s unbelievable.”

He’s seen all the new machinery out there and is amazed at what farmers have now.

“I’ve ridden in them all – the new tractors and combines. Don’t even have to steer them. A lot different than when we used horses, that’s for sure,” Mel said.

The siblings have remained close over the years. Inez lives just a few doors down from her brother, Mel and his wife, Norma, at the Haaland Manor apartments. And with Kermit just on the south side of town, they manage to see each other quite a lot.

And as for that elusive secret to living a long life, all three say it’s maybe more about what you don’t do than what you do, like smoking and drinking.

None of the three think it’s really a secret. They are just fortunate to have inherited good genes.

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