Nekoosa resident turns 103
BY MIKE WARREN
NEKOOSA – On Feb. 24, 1920, Adolf Hitler presented his National Socialist program in Munich to the German Workers’ Party, which renames itself as the Nazi Party. Eight days earlier and 483 miles to the north, a baby girl was born in Hamburg.
Fast forward 103 years and 4,200 miles to the west, that “girl” is now living at Nekoosa Court.
“The happy times I had with my paternal grandfather,” Eva Horn said, as she recalled her earliest memory, during our Feb. 16 visit. “He was so happy. He had two boys. Now I was born a tiny, little girl, and I was his sweetheart and he was mine,” she added, in her thick, German accent.
Eva also recalled the worst of times in her native country, and some of the reasons why she and her husband, Werner Horn, fled their homeland for the United States.
“What you see now on TV we went through it,” Eva remembered. “They bombed all the houses and the apartments. You never knew if you made it that day or not.”
In the years following World War II, Eva and her husband – from Dresden – made the difficult decision to leave the only home they had ever known.
“Well, first of all, we had no children,” she said. “We couldn’t get an apartment. We had to move in with strange people because they had room for another couple to take in. No family, but we lived like a family. Same kitchen. Same bathroom. Not an ideal thing, not when you are independent.”
In 1952, Werner and Eva Horn packed up their belongings and headed for America. After landing in New York and spending a few weeks with relatives at their retirement home in the Catskill Mountains, the Horns boarded a train headed for Chicago, where Werner got a job working as an engraver. Four years later – when Eva was 36 – their son Roland was born. That, she says, is her fondest memory. And like his mother, Roland is an only child.
After 35 years of living and working in the Windy City, the Horns decided it was getting time to retire. They chose a piece of property in the Adams County community of Lake Camelot from a stack of brochures at a weekend home show one day, and decided that is where they would go. They officially relocated to Camelot in 1987, after Werner had retired at the age of 71, and Eva at 67.
“We bought a little piece of property there for camping in the beginning, then when it came to retirement, we decided to sell our house in Chicago and had a prefabricated Wausau Home put up, and had the happiest times of our life there,” Eva recalled. “Everybody was in the same boat. Mortgage was paid. The kids were out of the house. Hallelujah,” Eva exclaimed, as she giggled.
Once Werner’s health began to fail, the couple relocated to a mobile home in Wisconsin Rapids, closer to medical care. He was eventually placed in an assisted living facility following a heart attack, and died in 2012, at the age of 96. Three years later, Eva moved to Nekoosa Court, where she has spent the past seven-and-a-half years.
“I can’t believe it,” Eva said, in response to turning 103.
So what’s the secret to living a long, healthy and happy life?
“Do everything the doctor says you shouldn’t,” she quipped, without hesitation.
Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Eva.