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90 years young and still looking forward

Carl Oehlke celebrated his 90th birthday on July 26. He has worked in the plumbing department at Menards for 17 years. He wanted to be photographed in this aisle because when he was young, electricity was just coming into homes and his father plumbed and wired the family homestead as a young Carl watched and helped.1 / 2
Fellow employees and supervisors at Menards celebrated Carl's 90 birthday with him.2 / 2

Carl Oehlke offered a cliché initially as his secret to longevity attributing it to "wine, women and song." It did not take long for the widower, to share that he has always stayed active preferring the adage early to bed and early to rise as a way to stay out of trouble.

"It is important to keep your mind busy," said Oehlke who has lived in Hammond since 1953. His father was a dairy farmer in what is now Woodbury.

"It is kind of hard to find where the farm was," said Oehlke, who has a son and two daughters, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Oehlke followed in his father's footsteps raising and milking a herd of 43 cows on his farm in Hammond.

Change is something Oehlke has witnessed both in farming and life. He started farming with four horses.

"Now the tractors are so big," said Oehlke. "It is unbelievable how they can do all they do."

Travel was something Oehlke enjoyed with his wife, but due to the constraints of dairy farming, they never traveled very far, just short local trips. After his son took over his farm, Oehlke continued to work on a dairy farm for Donna (Speer) Bast.

For the last 17 years he has worked at Menards in the plumbing department. He is fond of all the PVC parts and pieces because it reminds him of how he learned by watching and helping his dad.

"When I was a kid, electricity was just starting to become a reality," said Oehlke. "Dad did his own wiring and plumbing. Everything has changed, at that time electricity was for lights and electric motors. Now days, you are lost without electricity."

Still a resident of Hammond, Oehlke has two acres with a large garden and apples, grapes and plums.

"That is what I am looking forward to doing when I retire," said Oehlke.