LANSING | Ninety-year-old Lansing resident Therese Grutzius said the secret to living a long, healthy life is to "stay active."
Taking care of a large family has played a key role in keeping Grutzius active and busy.
"My family is very big," she said. "I have 15 children and 42 grandchildren. I also have many great and great-great grandchildren."
Grutzius was born Nov. 11, 1916, in Crown Point and has lived in the Chicagoland area her entire life. She lived in Calumet City for 34 years - the longest she's lived anywhere. Twenty-five years ago she moved to Lansing, where she resides in an apartment with one of her daughters.
Grutzius is now a widow but was married for almost 43 years. She was a stay-at-home mom to her 15 children, except when she worked as a janitor at a local school to help pay for her kids to go through Catholic schooling.
She was also an avid bowler until she turned 86 and her feet began to give her trouble.
"I bowled for almost 35 years, but I can't anymore because of my feet," she said. "I can't really complain though, other than my feet, I'm in pretty good health."
A party was held Nov. 19 for Grutzius's 90th birthday at the American Legion in Calumet City.
Almost 200 of Grutzius's friends and five generations of her family were in attendance at the party. Some of her family traveled from as far as Arizona and Texas to be there.
"It was a great time," she said. "We ate, we sang and we danced. I was so happy to see everyone."
Grutzius's granddaughter, Ginger Grutzius, helped to plan the celebration. Ginger, a resident of Galveston, Texas, said it was "one great party."
Although Ginger grew up in Texas, she said her grandmother has always been a huge part of her life, including sending her fresh-baked cookies, a present and a card with a $5 bill in it for every birthday.
When Ginger turned 7, she visited and spent a month with her grandma every summer until she was an adult.
"We always had so much fun," she said. "One year she taught me how to make applesauce and apple strudel."
As an adult, Ginger still spends two weeks every other year with her grandma.
"It's really important that we don't lose touch with one another," she said.
Ginger said she hopes her grandma continues to live on for a long time.
"I can never get enough of my grandma," Ginger said. "She's the warmest, kindest soul I've ever known. I will love and respect her throughout my entire life, long after she's gone."