Gertrude “Trudie” MacFarland’s 108th birthday


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Friends, family and staff gathered at Brightondale Senior Community in New Brighton on July 2 to celebrate the 108th birthday of Gertrude “Trudie” Rhode.

The youngest of four, Trudie was born in a chicken coop on her family’s farm in Wood Lake, Minn. because the house was under construction at the time. Trudie was the valedictorian of her high school class and graduated from Mankato Business School (others called it Mankato State College) with a business degree.

Trudie married Tony Hybsa, a Polish immigrant, in 1934 and had two children — Joan (married to Jack Scovil and living in St. Anthony) and Bill (married to Diane Davis). Tony passed away in 1979. Trudie met and married her second husband, widower Matt MacFarland — 12 years her junior, in 1984. The couple stayed in their home in Columbia Heights until 2006 when they moved into Brightondale Senior Campus together to better care for Matt. Trudie was 101. Matt passed away in 2007.

At 108, Trudie is the oldest person in Brightondale’s system.

Trudie loves music and played the piano, sewing, artwork, and traveling. She has visited several countries and she and her husband Matt wintered in Hawaii every year until 2006.

Trudie credits her (and her family’s) health and longevity to healthy, farm-living; staying active; and keeping a great attitude. She eats three meals a day including oatmeal, toast, one or two eggs, and coffee with half and half every morning for breakfast. She also loves pancakes. 

Trudie stood to greet everyone and thank them for coming to celebrate her birthday with her. “What a thrill to see so many people here today. I hope you all have a good rest of the year ...”

— Samara Bilyeu-Anderson

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