Family walks for Jennie
Jennie Wanner's extended family will be lacing up their tennis shoes to participate in the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday in Dickinson.
Wearing T-shirts with the logo, "5 Generations Walking for Jennie" the team was named this year's Honorary Family.
"We're looking forward to the walk -- it should be very nice," said Wanner's daughter, Maggie Steffes from her home in Kansas City, Mo.
At age 99, Jennie lives in CountryHouse. Her family includes six children, Ted, Leona, Maggie, David, Gene and Tony; 18 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Ask any of the grandchildren about a favorite memory of their grandma, and the answer is likely "playing cards," Maggie said.
The Wanners farmed north of Belfield until 1949 when the family moved into Belfield after the death of their father. Rearing a young family by herself, Jennie cleaned houses and motels, sewed and babysat.
"She was always working on a project," Maggie said. "She used to sew our dresses when we were growing up and then would sew pajamas for the grandkids."
Everyone loved her caramel rolls and poppy seed rolls.
"Even the neighbors still talk about them," she said.
Jennie was actively involved at the Senior Center while living in Belfield.
"She taught the grandkids to play pinochle," Maggie added. "At family gatherings, my oldest nephew always wanted to be partners with her because he knew they would win."
The family noticed that Jennie was getting forgetful after her sister died in November.
"My mom was the last of the family and it seemed a switch went off and she started developing dementia," Maggie said.
"The thing I miss the most is I used to call her once a week -- we don't any more because she can't talk on the phone," she added.
David credits his mother for keeping the family together while he was growing up.
"We all had our chores and duties, he said. "We always went to visit relatives and played lots of games and cards."
He likes to visit his mother at least once a week and they talk about the old times.
He's looking forward to the Alzheimer's Walk as many of the family will be participating.
"There will be 20 for sure -- going back five generations. Even the littlest one is walking," he said.