Fargo's oldest resident, Helene Sandvig, celebrates 111th birthday

At 111 years old, Helene Sandvig remembers her career as a country school teacher in the 1920s, picking up her students in a horse and buggy.

Helene Sandvig, 111, resides at Bethany Retirement Living in Fargo.
Kevin Wallevand / WDAY

FARGO — When Helene Sandvig heard people were already gathering for her birthday party on Friday, Nov. 25, she and her walker went into overdrive. No wheelchair for Helene, and get out of her way.

"How else would you get around? You have to get around," Helene said smiling.

Helene's friends and family came to honor her, as she turned 111, with a party at Bethany Retirement Living in Fargo.

"It is fine, it is OK with me. I can get around. Is there going to be a party?" Helene said smiling. "Is this for me, this party?"

Helene has lived through two pandemics, world wars and tough years living in rural Cass County.


"We milked cows, and raised pigs and chickens," said Helene, who grew up on a farm near Chaffee, North Dakota.

At 111, Helene remembers her career as an educator in the 1920s, picking up her students in a horse and buggy.

"I was a country school teacher," Helene said proudly.

Her cake was one only a few can brag about.

"Oh my goodness, that's quite a cake," she said, looking at her decorated cake with the number 111 on it. "Oh my goodness, how old am I ? 111? Really?"

Helene enjoyed every minute of the gathering.

Great-nieces and great-great-nieces came. All were glad to see Helene, the second oldest person in North Dakota, marking another year of her life.

"Thank you for coming and sitting with me," Helene said to a friend.


And who is Helene chasing in the birthday competition? Clarabell "Grandma D" Demers of Grafton, North Dakota. She is 112 .

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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