Rosena grew up and attended a one-room country school until the seventh grade, when she began attending classes at the Brooke Consolidated School. Rosena had three sisters and no brothers, so she was her "dad's little cowboy," she says - milking the cows, feeding hogs, and doing other chores around the farm. Rosena also did some housekeeping for neighbors, relatives, and others when they were in need of extra help.
On March 7, 1933, Rosena married Harry Pingel, whom she had known for most of her life, as the two had "grown up in the same church." The young couple moved to a farm north of Aurelia, where Harry's brother Henry and his sister Anna had lived for several years. Harry farmed, and Rosena tended to the house - and to their growing family. Harry and Rosena had five sons - Donald, Myron, Robert, Dean and Ivan, and one daughter, LaVonne. Rosena and Harry continued to live on the farm until they moved to the town of Aurelia in 1970, and, in addition to their crops and livestock, Rosena raised chickens during their final 25 years at the farm - tending to the eggs, and selling them to the local hatchery.
Rosena also sang in the church choir, and says she "had my own little band" with six children around the house. Of the many changes Pingel has seen in the world during her lifetime, she says one of the biggest is how often people travel, and get around to other towns and cities now - a far cry from the way things were when she was younger.
When Harry and Rosena moved into town, their son Myron and his family moved into the farmhouse. Myron took over the farming operation, receiving help through the years from his brother Don, brother-in-law Jon Smith, sons Wayne and Paul, and several hired men.
Harry Pingel passed away on Christmas Eve, 1991, and Rosena remembers that Reverend Henry Kuhn began the funeral service by saying that Harry had received a wonderful Christmas present that year - being able to return home to heaven.
Rosena moved to Sunset Knoll Retirement Home in Aurelia six years ago, and continues to reside there. Myron and his wife Joyce have moved to Cherokee, and their son Paul, his wife Karrie, and their children now live on the family farm. Paul and Karrie's children are the fourth generation of Pingels to live on the farm place. Paul's dad, Myron, and uncles Don and Jon still help out on the farm, particularly at harvest time.
Rosena is still quite sharp, providing all the details for this article. When I asked whether she had any special plans for her "special" birthday, she replied, "They' ve got something planned, but I don't know what it is, exactly."
By "they," Rosena meant her family, of course. All of her children have remained in Iowa, and she has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren living nearby as well. Don and his wife, Jan, live in rural Cherokee (Don was recently elected to the State Fair 4-H Hall of Fame); Myron has retired - or semi-retired, at least - from farming, and he and Joyce now live in the town of Cherokee; Robert (Bob) coached and taught school in Underwood for many years, then retired from that profession to go into the carpentry business. He and his wife still reside in Underwood.
Dean is a chiropractor, and he and his family live in Spencer; the youngest of the six Pingel children, Ivan, and his family live and farm near Latimer, near Hampton. Rosena and Harry's only daughter, LaVonne, passed away several years ago, but her husband, Jon Smith, still lives in Aurelia, and Rosena considers him to be another son.
Rosena said that she has told her "kids" that they "certainly don't have to make a big deal" of her 100th birthday. Though her own mother lived to the age of 93, Rosena said, "I didn't think I'd be living this long."
The deeply spiritual centenarian concluded our interview, summing up her century of living by saying simply, "I've been blessed."
Happy Birthday, Rosena!