Crown College Alumna Lena Dick Speaks About the Secret to Longevity

December 8, 2017

When most people hear the number 112, they think of a bad bowling score. For the oldest Minnesotan and the eighth oldest person in the United States, it’s quite a milestone.

Lena Dick was born on August 5, 1905 to her parents, Isaac and Nellie Schultz. (The president of Crown, Dr. Wiggins, was also born on that day, but he is not quite 112.) Lena was the second child born into her family, surrounded by brothers David, Albert, Willard, and a sister, Susanna.

As a child, Lena loved to sing around the house and take care of her siblings. Susanna was born when Lena was 11 years old; however, her sister did not survive the birth. This tragedy took away quite a bit of happiness, and Lena stopped singing around the house. When her mother asked her why she stopped, she replied, “My sister just died.”

Experiencing hardships at such an early age, Lena came to know Jesus as a young girl. The verse that has stuck with her all these years is 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Cast all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

Many burdens laid heavy on Lena’s heart. After dedicating her life to Jesus, she had someone to help carry those burdens.

Her walk with Jesus drew her to Crown College in the 1920s. When Lena was attending Crown, it was known as the Alliance Training Home and was located in St. Paul. While there, she met an interesting professor who strongly impacted her life.

“Grace Allen arrived at the college in 1921,” states The Victor’s Crown: A History of Crown College, written by former Crown College History Professors Joe Tewinkel and Bill Bedford. “She taught music, including both piano and voice. Miss Allen was blind, but exemplified effectiveness in the face of her handicap. Students assisted her in the practical aspects of her work, receiving room and board, at least part of it, for their assistance. She also ministered as a soloist in the tabernacle, and in summer tent meetings throughout the district.”

Lena remembers that Professor Allen was always singing the hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”: I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“She sang that song all the time,” says Lena, “It was her favorite.”


College Life

Between her studies, Lena stayed busy working in the dining hall and babysitting for Professor Harold Street. In the dining hall, she washed dishes and served hungry college students. “I worked in the kitchen to help pay for tuition,” said Lena. While babysitting, Lena would push Street’s little girl in a buggy around town.

Lena graduated from the Alliance Training Home in 1926, and then returned home to Mountain Lake, Minnesota. Not long after coming back, she fell in love with a charming neighbor boy, Jacob Dick. Jacob was gifted with the power of conversation and could talk to anybody.

The young couple married on April 26, 1934. It was one of the driest years on record, right in the middle of the Dust Bowl. There was such an immense cloud of dust in the air that the sun was barely visible. The darkness seemed to touch the ground, and all the grasshoppers came out of their burrows to see what was happening. The world looked like it might be ending, but the union of Lena and Jacob offered them a refreshed sense of hope in God.

After the wedding, the Dicks moved to the country and lived on a dairy farm. They raised cows and produced all the milk they could manage. It was extremely hard work, but Lena approached it with dignity, perseverance, and grace. To this day, Lena believes her hard work on the farm is the secret to her longevity.

Lena and Jacob had three children and raised them with the love of Jesus in their hearts. She once again received the opportunity to care for children, and the music that had left her soul after the death of her sister came back stronger than ever.

The Dicks gave up the farm in the 1970s, and not too long after, Jacob passed away. He was almost 85 years old when he died.

Lena lived on her own until she was 105, and she continued to host and cook for family gatherings throughout that time. While Jacob was still alive, he would carry on a lively discussion, making every dinner an experience. Lena loved to cook, and her most famous meal was duck roast with sides of potatoes and vegetables, with fresh strawberries for dessert. Similar to her cooking, Lena’s life has been filled with flavor.

When asked what advice she would give to young people, Lena responded, “Read the Bible and trust the Lord. Attend a Christian school; Crown is a good one.”