Happy 109th birthday, strawberry ice cream enthusiast
The eldest member of Beloit’s alumni community gets a Today Show shoutout.
Earlier this year, at 109, Genevieve Dean Turner’35 made her debut on the Today Show. But that’s only one extraordinary thing to know about her.
Genevieve is also the oldest living member of Beloit’s alumni community. The mother of two sons and a daughter, grandmother of 10, and great-grandmother of 23, she and her husband, Robert, were only three months short of a 50-year wedding anniversary when he passed away in 1991.
Al Roker of the Today Show introduced Genevieve as “a strawberry ice cream enthusiast” when he celebrated her by showing her photograph last February during the broadcast. Roker and his fellow Today Show hosts wished Genevieve and a small group of other centenarians a happy birthday in a segment dedicated to milestone birthdays and sponsored by Smuckers Jam. Her picture also appeared on the label of selected jars of strawberry Smuckers during a promotion.
A retired teacher, Genevieve grew up in Mt. Morris, Ill., and came to Beloit as an undergraduate in 1931. She recalls that she liked “the opportunity to study and learn and do her own thing, away from home.” She has fond Beloit memories of making friends, being a member of Kappa Delta sorority, and going to dances on Friday nights where she got to meet other students.
Genevieve went to graduate school at Northwestern University, where she met her husband. She became a teacher in Shelbyville, Ill., and later an in-home tutor.
She can sum up her secret to a long life in two words: “Be happy!” she says.