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Meet the ageless Margaret Nurmi

Margaret Nurmi and her companion Annie.

Just looking at her, few would guess Margaret Nurmi will be 90 years old in November. She's sharp as a tack, gets around like a person half her age, spends time at her cabin up the shore and walks her dog along the local trails for exercise. She can also wear her prom dress from 1939-40, as she did for a Socially Active Seniors prom in 2005.

"I'm the same size I was when I graduated from high school," she said, and she produced a picture as proof. The lavender formal -- black and white in the photo -- fit just fine after six decades. Not many can make that claim.

Nurmi lives in the same neat little house where she and her husband raised their five kids. There are flowers planted by the back door and flower beds and a hummingbird feeder in the front where she can sit on the deck and watch the critters that visit.

"I just saw a rabbit over there," she said, pointing to the rocks around the flower garden. "Yesterday the yard was full of robins, young ones." There are also totem poles carved by her husband, Reino, who died 12 years ago.

Earlier in the summer, Nurmi's yard was the site of a family gathering in honor of her upcoming birthday. She preferred to call it a "decades party." Twenty-five guests attended, including four of her five children, and all the decades from zero to nine were represented except three and eight. Great-grandson Jack was at the youngest and Nurmi was the senior member. Family members brought food (what's a Minnesota party without food?) and they passed the day visiting, she said.

Nurmi has packed a great deal of life into 90 years and continues to stay active.

"I love to sew," she said, and she's not kidding.

She estimates that she has sewn hundreds of baby quilts that she's donated to an organization for single young mothers and Lutheran Social Services. She recently sewed 40 dresses for girls in Africa as part of a project at her church, Bethlehem Lutheran.

"They gave us the pattern and we could decorate [the dresses] any way we wanted," she said. She is still active on a contributions committee that decides how donations to the Silver Bay Veterans' Hospital will be used, and in 2000, she was named Lake County Outstanding Senior.

She keeps her mind busy with books, many passed along to her by a son who volunteers at a library in Des Moines, Iowa. She in turn donates them to the annual Two Harbors Public Library book sale (coming up later this month).

How does she do it? Well, she says, she works exercise into her schedule and has a little dog that gets her up several times a day. She deliberately leaves the phone in the kitchen so she'll have to get up to answer it. She's careful about what she eats and keeps herself busy.

The best part of being 90, she said, is "being healthy and happy. I look forward to each new day."