Pearl was a real gem

Buffalo Lake centenarian was active right up until the end.

Editor’s note: Pearl Dettmann died after this story was written and our condolences go out to her family and friends. You will see in her story that she was a very active person and focused on doing good things for others. It was truly an honor and privilege to have met her, interview her and photograph her in action. Pearl was born April 22, 1911 and passed away at the age of 100 on Dec. 15, 2011. She started sewing when she was only three years old and continues today making quilts, dresses, shirts, pillow cases for people all over the world. Pearl Dettmann, at the age of 100, makes her home in the Buffalo Lake Healthcare Center where she has lived the past four years and is very involved in her sewing hobby, Wii bowling, card playing and other activities the Center provides. “You name it and I do it,” she said with a funny chuckle. “I don’t know the exact count of quilts I have made, but it’s in the hundreds,” Pearl recalled. “My quilts have been sent to places in Africa, Haiti, Jamaica as well as the United States.” It takes Pearl about two weeks to complete one quilt. She said her latest quilts are being sent (or picked up) for churches in northwestern Minnesota and for a friend’s church in South Dakota. She celebrated her 100th birthday at the Center in April of 2011 and has spent all of her life in the Buffalo Lake area. She was born on a farm south of Stewart on April 22, 1911 to Ray and Elizabeth Harrington. She attended District 8 Country School and graduated from the eighth grade. She then finished a year of high school before deciding to stay at home to care for her mother who became ill and was bed-ridden and she also helped with the farm chores. She grew up with a brother, Charles, who passed away, and a sister, Alice Webster who now lives in St. Paul and is 11 years younger than her. It was in the year of the stock market crash of 1929 when Pearl and Fred Dettmann were married. They farmed south of Stewart for awhile and later bought a farm south of Buffalo Lake. They also purchased a ranch in Missouri. “We farmed for about three years along with the farm south of Buffalo Lake,” she said. In 1933 they had their first and only child, Glenn. She became involved in bowling and competed in leagues in Stewart and Olivia. She was a league leader and was invited to participate on the popular show “Bowlerama” in the 50’s and 60’s with her friend Wilna Ahlbrecht of Buffalo Lake. To this day she is still active in bowling. Right after dinner at the Healthcare Center, Pearl takes up Wii bowling on the television. She calls it “Strike Time”. To this day her best score is 256. “That’s a lot of strikes,” she said. Her husband Fred passed away in 1976 at which time she made her home at Porter Apartments for the next 13 years. Then she bought “Tiny” Radtke’s home and lived there until November of 2007, when she moved in to the Healthcare Center which was only one block away. At the Center she focused on sewing and quilt-making. She also taught sewing and quilt-making for the Buffalo Lake Community Education program. Pearl used the internet and the world wide web to find battered women’s shelters in the United States, Haiti and Africa. She made new friends with these computer contacts and sent dresses, quilt pieces and pillow cases to help the people. She has been recognized for her quality work by entering her quilts in the Elder Care category of the Renville County Fair. In the past three years she has received many ribbons and in 2011 she was awarded a grand ribbon along with three other ribbons at the Renville County Fair.

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