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At 102, Rugby’s Kermit Blessum has seen it all

By Staff | Nov 27, 2012

Kermit Blessum has seen it all.

Blessum, who turns 102 on Nov. 17, was born “during the horse and buggy days” and in his 90s, learned how to use a laptop computer.

“There’s been a lot of changes in my life,” he said.

That would be an understatement.

Blessum was born in 1910, and has lived in the Rugby area his entire life, farming and raising a family that included four daughters.

Growing up on a farm, Blessum remembers delivering milk before classes, which his family sold for 8 cents a quart.

He said his father was always at the forefront of agricultural technology.

“When we farmed with horses, I remember my dad bought a stallion,” Blessum said. “He paid $4,000 for it, which at the time was a fortune.”

As technology improved, the farm updated, purchasing a steam engine tractor.

He still has a good memory for the key historical events of his lifetime, including the Great Depression.

“The dirty 30s,” he said. “Those were pretty rough times.”

He can also still recall the first car his father bought, a Studebaker in 1915, and remembers buying his first car in 1933.

Although he said he has done plenty of traveling in his life, he said he enjoyed working on his farm southeast of Rugby and being close to home.

“I’d have to say farming is a pretty good life,” he said. “You get to be your own boss. I hope to return back home in the spring.”

“Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home,” he said, repeating the lyrics from the song “Home Sweet Home.”

His wife passed away in 1983, but Blessum has stayed busy past the century mark with a number of hobbies.

He is an accomplished wood worker, and his room at the Haaland Home where he has lived since August, contains quite a bit of his handi work, including a night stand, a lamp and a television stand.

He is also fascinated with geology, owner of a rock collection with stones from a number of continents including Africa and Australia.

“I’m a rock hound,” Blessum said, as he showed off his collection. “If they come from a certain area, you can usually tell what they’re going to look like (once they are cut and polished).”

He has stayed active, and was mowing his own lawn as recently as a year ago, was also doing sit ups well into his 90s.

Blessum, who admits his first name is a bit of a rarity, said he has only met one other Kermit, a man who lived in Rugby. Blessum was named after Teddy Roosevelt’s son Kermit, who was born in 1889.

“This goes way back,” he said. “My dad thought a lot of him and he had a son named Kermit, that’s the story.”

Blessum has a walker, but said he still gets around without it much of the time.

“I’m pretty fortunate to have as good of health as I have at my age,” he said.

He said he’s going to continue to make the best of his remaining years.

“I don’t think you have much of an idea how long you’re going to be around,” he said. “It just happens I guess.”

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