100 years and still having fun

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Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News Jane Makholm is celebrating her 100th birthday on July 19.

BELOIT - Hard work and a positive attitude seem to be the secret to longevity for Jane Makholm, who turns 100 on July 19.

Makholm, who moved to Beloit Senior Living a year ago from Suring, Wisconsin, lives independently in her on-site apartment, is on the go and is in almost perfect health.

She attends exercise class and book club, does crafts and stops in at happy hour. She enjoys an occasional nip of gin.

To celebrate her many happy years, she will be heading up to Suring for a week of birthday festivities including "donuts with Jane" at her church, where members will tell their favorite stories about her.

On July 26, Beloit Senior Living is having a big party for Makholm complete with pink moscato by request.

Makholm was a city girl who grew to have a rural heart. She grew up in Chicago as an only child. Her parents had divorced and she grew up with a single mother, unusual at the time for a Catholic family. She worked for John Hancock Insurance in Chicago after graduating high school in 1937.

The city girl's life took a sharp turn after she married her husband Austin in 1941 and the two decided to take over Hill View Jersey Farm in Suring. She moved into the farm house with her in-laws and learned how to cook, wash and milk cows. In the community of 660 people, she became Lutheran and adjusted to rural life.

Nearing 100 years of age, Makholm smiles about her farm days which she considered a lot of work but also fun.

"They had notoriety of being the second highest producing Jersey herd for butterfat in the state of Wisconsin," said her daughter Alice Olson.

With her kids not wanting to be farmers, the Makholms sold the farm after 35 years. However, Makholm was a long ways off from retirement. Her husband got a job assessing and she had jobs as a CNA, receptionist and in medical records.

After surviving a heart attack in her late 60s, her doctor encouraged her to retire to reduce stress. That same doctor then turned around and hired her for five years with Makholm working into her late 70s. She only stopped working when the doctor passed away.

During her many years on the payroll, Makholm also kept busy by acting as general contractor on a new house and put in a pond, shed and island with a bridge. When her husband passed away in 2003, she did renovations and sold the house.

At age 86, Makholm would again become general contractor for a double wide mobile home for herself. She obtained all the permits, got people to build the basement and driveway and hired electricians and plumbers.

Makholm lived in her latest home for 15 years where she maintained gardens and mowed two acres. She finally decided it was time to consider moving when her riding lawn mower broke at age 98.

With her daughter living in Rockton, the plan was for Makholm to move nearby. Always a Packers fan and loyal Wisconsin resident, she opted to stay north of the border and loved what she found at Beloit Senior Living.

Makholm can share meals twice a day with residents, but does her own cleaning, takes her own medications and runs her apartment independently. Although it was a big adjustment, Makholm said she keeps moving forward. She's made friends and participates in all activities.

"I just keep busy," Makholm said.

"She's goes to everything," her daughter added. "If I try to call her, it's hard to catch her."

Makholm also goes to Florida with her daughter and son-in-law Larry for three months in the winter.

Her daughter credits her longevity to good genes, a smile and a can-do attitude.

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