Spaniers credit their longevity to love

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 5/5/98.

Herb Spanier turned 90 on April 24 and Erma will celebrate her 90th in July.

The Paynesville couple have been married 67 years and go for short walks daily, changing their destination from the coffee shop at Cenex to visiting neighbors. ďWe seldom walk more than two to four blocks at any given time,Ē they said.

ďIím just a plain old dirt farmer,Ē Herb says. He stills mows his own lawn and enjoys working in his garden. ďAs I get older, the garden is getting smaller,Ē he added.

The couple said they credit their longevity to always working together, loving each other and having a lot of kids. ďWe seldom argued,Ē Erma added.

The couple attended country school together. They went their separate ways, Herb farming, and Erma working in St. Cloud. ďWorking in St. Cloud, I didnít get home very often. Herb would visit once in a great while,Ē she said.

The couple have 11 children, 33 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren. Their children are Melvin, Paynesville, Cyril, Lake Henry, Evelyn, St. Paul, Dave, Paynesville, Mary, Charleston, S.C., Roger, Avon, Richard, Minneapolis, Orville (OJ), St. Cloud, Judy, Minneapolis, Mike, Sartell, and Kevin, Bloomington.

Erma said after you reach your 20th anniversary, the time really goes fast. The couple was married in St. Martin in 1931. They farmed between Lake Henry and St. Martin until they retired in 1970. At that time, they moved into Paynesville.

Herb enjoys playing his concertina at parties so people can sing. He also can be found sitting in his basement playing the piano and singing Latin church music and German songs.

Erma spends her free time crocheting, sewing, and taking care of her plants. She has a fern planted in a three-pound coffee can that is 30 years old. The leaves on the plant extend out three to four feet from the pot.

ďI enjoy my plants, but they are a lot of work to take care of. I have had to cut back on the number in the house,Ē she said.

ďThere is always something to do to keep busy,Ē they added.

In July, Erma underwent major surgery for colon cancer. She is just getting back on her feet and getting out again. ďIím feeling a lot stronger every day,Ē she said.

Herb attends morning Mass daily at St. Louis Catholic Church. His neighbor, Alfred Rothstein, gives him a ride. After Herb quit driving, Rothsteins volunteered to give them a ride to church. The two families were neighbors on the farm. Erma never had a driverís license. ďOne didnít need a license with 11 children,Ē she said. ďThere was always somebody willing to give me a ride where I wanted to go.Ē

ďThe neighbors keep their driveway open for them during the winter months,Ē Dave Spanier, a son, said.

The children take turns each weekend, helping their parents clean the house, running errands, and taking them to church on Sundays.

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