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Seward woman turns 106, celebrates with police-escorted parade

Elsie Steinauer was born in 1914. She's lived through world wars, depressions and several pandemics. Wednesday, her family wanted to celebrate her 106th trip around the sun with a parade.
Elsie Steinauer raises a toast to 106 years. She was watching people parade past her long-term care facility.
Elsie Steinauer raises a toast to 106 years. She was watching people parade past her long-term care facility.(Sandy Shaw)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 5:12 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -

Elsie Steinauer said there is no secret to turning 106.

“You know, everybody always asks me that,” said Steinauer. She spoke with 10/11 NOW’s Madison Pitsch over the phone, because she was not allowed to leave Ridgewood Rehabilitation and Care Center in Seward.

When Steinauer hit her hundreds, her family started celebrating her birthday in big ways. The last three or four years have all been surprises.

”She always says she doesn’t like surprises, but after we do it, she’s pretty happy,” said her niece, Marti Feit. “She is just the most amazing person.

Elsie Steinauer specificially requested balloons for her 106th birthday parade.
Elsie Steinauer specificially requested balloons for her 106th birthday parade.(Madison Pitsch)

Wednesday, horns were honked and balloons drifted out of grasp as people drove through the half-moon driveway in front of Ridgewood. It’s a welcome site after not seeing friends and family throughout the months of quarantine.

“I loved it all,” said Steinauer with a laugh. “I wish they’d do that everyday.”

One of Steinauer’s close friends was there too. Sandy Shaw is 50 years Steinauer’s junior, but calls her one of her closest friends.

“She’s one of my very best friends,” said Shaw. “She’s been with me through the ups and downs... With the pandemic we can’t even go see her. It’s been challenging.”

Shaw and Steinauer used to go on roadtrips together, visit, and buy things from QVC. Now, they’ve just had to write each other letters to keep their distance.

In Steinauer’s 106 years, she’s put 10′s of thousands of miles on her stationary bike, and still monitors the stock market closely. Feit said at 95, Steinauer bought and learned how to use her first computer and first cellphone. Both Shaw and Feit say Steinauer is a kind soul, who loves to have fun and enjoy life.

“I have a lot of good memories,” said Steinauer. “It’s been a good life. I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

At her last several birthday parties, Steinauer’s family and friends have developed an inside joke. At the end of the festivities, they plan for the next birthday.

“Every year we say, ‘Okay same time next year!‘” said Shaw. “She’s just like the energizer bunny, she just keeps on going!”

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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