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Mary Cecelia Moran Tysdal,
Mary Cecelia Moran Tysdal was born in
on November 7, 1909. She celebrates reaching
the century mark in the home she and her
husband shared for over 60 years, and the
same home where he celebrated his 100th in
2006! Now a widow, she says she’s getting
along just fine and recently renewed her
drivers license for another five years. Mary
is pleased to be able to live independently,
drive to get her own groceries and go out
for coffee and social events “with the
girls,” most of whom are 20 years younger.
She believes that both family and friends
are important for maintaining a good quality
of life in later years.
She is proud of her Irish heritage, is an
avid fan of the Minnesota Twins, travels to
visit her four children (and attended a
Twins game this summer), has a positive
outlook on life and is glad that the powers
that be have let her live so long to enjoy
life and her family. Her oldest sister
lived to be 109, so Mary contemplates many
more happy years of living.
Happy 100th Birthday, Mary!
A telephone conversation with new
centenarian Mary Tysdal will lift one’s
spirits. Her lovely voice belies her age,
and indeed she says she doesn’t feel old.
“I read the paper every day, watch the news
and stay current with events,” she tells. “I
believe in having a positive, happy
disposition – no one wants to listen to
someone complaining.” Her son, Jim,
describes her as “with it, very hip and up
to date, and dresses fashionably in
contemporary styles. She still loves to
dance, loves people and social interaction
and is always ready to go out whenever we
come to visit.” But even without these
things, Mary confides, she would still be
happy living in her own home.
A happy home life was instilled in Mary in
her formative years, growing up the second
youngest of eleven children in the small
community of Woonsocket, South Dakota.
“It’s the Irish tradition to sing and dance
and to put on programs for special events
and holidays” she tells. “Every night after
supper, we would all go into the parlor to
sing and dance. We’d sing popular songs,
Irish songs and hymns. My oldest sister,
Helen, who lived to 109, would play the
piano and I would dance – especially the
Irish jig. Everyone would sing.”
Mary graduated from high school in 1928 and
attended Notre Dame College in nearby
Mitchell for one year, receiving her
teaching certificate. “My whole family were
educators; all of my brothers and sisters
were teachers” Mary says. Mary had planned
to continue her college education, “but it
was the beginning of the Depression,” she
says, “everyone was freaked out. The bank
closed – it was awful. People were taking
whatever work they could get. A one-year
degree qualified me to teach in a country
school, and so that’s what I did. Later,
one of my brothers who was two years older
and I paired up to teach on an Indian
Reservation. We taught together – it was
fun. In those days there were few career
choices for women: traditionally, you could
be a nurse, a stenographer or a teacher. My
mother wanted me to be a teacher, and so
that’s what I did, and I’m glad. When times
got easier, I returned to college and
received my State Certificate that enabled
me to teach throughout the state. Teaching
second grade was my favorite.
The family celebrates
Lloyd's 100th Birthday in 2006.
Front row: Mary and Lloyd. Back row (l-r):
Morrie and Bill, daughter Mary Jo and son
Photo courtesy of the Tysdal family.
While in high school she met a young local
man, Lloyd Tysdal, also the tenth child of
eleven. “We saw each other off and on for
awhile – nothing serious – she tells. He
was Luthern. Intermingling was rare then.
In fact, at that time, a couple of two
religions was considered a ‘mixed
”I went away to college and on to teaching
and was busy doing other things and not
thinking about getting married. Oh, I
dated, I just wasn’t serious about it.
Lloyd and I met up again at one point, but
then drifted apart. Finally, in 1944, they
along fine – everything went great.
Lloyd was a character, full of laughter and
good humor. We had a good time. He had
done a lot of traveling and knew a lot of
people; it was lively. We lived in
town, but he owned farms and hired others to
run them.” They began their family of three
boys and one girl when Mary was 35.
“That was considered pretty old to begin
motherhood,” she says with a chuckle, but it
didn’t deter her. In fact, nothing
ever has. After her children were
grown and in college themselves, Mary
returned to finish her Bachelors Degree in
Elementary Education at Dakota Wesleyan
University.She went on to teach elementary
school for nine years before retiring.
Mary remained active in her community,
primarily in elementary education, expanding
her social network to include friends of all
ages. She enjoys playing bridge and is
really happy to be able to continue to drive
and to live independently.
attributes her longevity to her strong
Catholic faith, positive attitude and
resiliency. Two years ago when her
husband passed away at 100 and three months,
Mary says she “adjusted and moved on.
I mourned his loss but you just can’t dwell
on it. I get along just fine here now.
My kids were concerned that I would be
isolated, since none live nearby. But I have
a wonderful social network and I’m sensible
– I don’t take risks. I have help come in
when I need it, but otherwise I manage my
2009 Mary Tysdal and her
children: Front row (l-r) Jim,
Mary and Mary Jo; back row (l-r) Bill and
Jim and his wife came last year and
surprised me with a “do-over.” Lloyd and I
had maintained our home, which we build in
the 60s, but it needed updating and got it.
It was fun. I chose the colors – my
bedroom is lime green with flowered drapes
and a fluffy down comforter. I have
chocolate brown accent walls in the living
room (Jim’s idea) – it’s truly my house now.
Mary adds philosophically: “When you’re
young, you don’t think about getting old.
But as Lloyd and I got on in years, we
accepted it and had a good feeling about
getting older and continuing to enjoy life.
That was very rewarding. So many people
fight it, or are frightened. But you have
to just get on with living and enjoying and
keep a good attitude and feel good about
coping – about your own ability to cope.
Resiliency is the main thing.” Then she
jokes: “I have a few wrinkles – they used to
be freckles. Now I just don’t put my glasses
on when looking in the mirror! You might as
well forget them; if you can laugh at
yourself, it’s all OK. You need to have a
sense of humor to get joy out of life.
"Sure there are trials and tribulations,
but on balance, just be glad to be alive. I
know I am. I have a good family, and I thank
God he’s let me stay here this long to be
Respecting the privacy of this centenarian
and all centenarians on our website, we ask
all media (or other businesses) to please
direct inquiries to Lynn Adler:
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