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State's oldest teacher celebrates 110 in Appleton

Little at 109

APPLETON -- Just as she did for her 100th birthday 10 years ago, Frances Stotts Little celebrated her birthday with a toast of champagne to accompany her cake.

Family and friends joined with Little at the Appleton Nursing Home on Friday to mark her 110th birthday.

The long-time Swift County teacher remains as sharp as ever, said her niece, Deanna Hoffman of Brainerd. She calls her aunt "amazing.'' Hoffman said Little's vision and hearing have been failing and she has the physical challenges that come with aging.

Family members believe that Little is the oldest living teacher in Minnesota.

Born Jan. 15, 1900, in DeForest as Frances Stotts, she graduated from the Appleton High School in 1918. She attended normal school and began teaching in a rural Swift County district by driving a horse and buggy to the school house each day, according to information provided by the family.

Her horse is credited with saving her life when she was caught in the infamous blizzard of 1919 that claimed the lives of many young children who were caught by the storm on their way to rural schools.

She took a position in International Falls in 1920, saying she wanted to get away from home but still be in Minnesota. She saved enough from her $55-a-month salary to buy a Model T Ford.

Marriage in 1927 to Homer Little brought her home. She continued to teach in Swift County schools until retiring in 1961.

She and her husband enjoyed more than 50 years together, and enjoyed traveling. They built vacation homes in California, Arizona and Battle Lake, Minn.

After her husband's death, she maintained her Appleton residence and remained active in community and social activities. She remained in her home until, at the age of 104, she broke her hip in a fall.

She credits her longevity to coming from "good stock,'' keeping busy, walking and reading a great deal.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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