Clara Karli celebrated her 100th birthday on July 31. A party was held in her honor on Saturday, July 27, at the Mabel Legion.
Clara Karli celebrated her 100th birthday on July 31. A party was held in her honor on Saturday, July 27, at the Mabel Legion.
On Saturday, July 27, Clara (Solie) Karli celebrated an important milestone in her life. Family, friends, and even former students joined her for a party at the Mabel Legion to celebrate her 100th birthday, complete with cake, flowers and display board, representing decades of Clara's life.

As Clara reminisces about each photo on the display board, a smile takes over her face, "I had always wanted to be a teacher. I remember playing school with my brothers and sisters in the long stairway at home."

Clara went on to explain "Mom couldn't afford to send me to college, so I was lucky to be chosen as one of the 12 to take the fifth year of high school and go to Teacher's Training or Normal School as it was called. It was the one year of training I needed to become a teacher. Nel Bryan was our instructor. She was a big woman and very strict. I recall myself being a timid young person who couldn't write very well. Miss Bryan got upset with me one day and said, 'Clara, you'll never be a teacher.' I thought to myself - I'll show her...and I did! I graduated from Teacher's Training in June 1932."

Clara added that she continued to attend summer school for the first nine years of her teaching career.

Clara (Solie) Karli was born on July 31, 1931, to Carl Elmer Solie and Olena Emilia (Rice) Solie. She attended elementary and high school at Spring Grove. She graduated from Spring Grove in 1931. After Teacher's Training in Spring Grove from 1931-1932, she taught nine years in country schools of Fillmore and Houston counties, including the schools of Northhouse, Badger Valley and Burg.

In 1941, she graduated with honors from Winona State Teacher's College, receiving a two-year diploma.

Following two years of teaching in Mabel, Clara accepted the fifth grade teaching position at Spring Grove and worked for the district until 1948. She then went to work for Mabel and said, "I retired from teaching in Mabel at the end of the school year in 1978."

On Jan. 2, 1946, Clara married Harold Karli, an ag instructor at Spring Grove Schools. Harold and Clara have two children, Dean and Ruth. "Besides being blessed with a daughter and son, I have two granddaughters, Vanessa and Danica, and one grandson, Leif." Clara beams as she shares a framed photo of the newest addition, a great-grandaughter, Brooklyn, born on July 24, 2013.

Clara's activities outside the classroom included sewing, canning, baking cookies and gardening. Clara is proud of her family roots and community.

"Church is my center," stated Clara. She is a member of Mabel First Lutheran Church, Mabel First Lutheran WELCA, Mabel American Legion Auxiliary, the volunteers of Green Lea Manor, Mabel PTA, Retired Educators, Alpha Delta Kappa, Minnesota Education Association and the Mabel Garden Club.

Clara went on to explain how important Mabel Steam Engine Days is to her. "I was only five years old when my father passed away in a threshing accident in 1918 - he was only 48. He was a thresher."

Clara explained that with the coming of the gasoline engine or tractor and the modern combine, the use of steam power to "thresh" the grain was becoming a thing of the past. A love for the steam engine was very strong in a few men in the community and they felt this part of farm history should not be forgotten.

"It is a way to honor my father; to pay tribute," expressed Clara.

Steam Engine Days started in Mabel in 1960 after it had been in held on the Clauson Farm in Hesper for several years. Clara organized and promoted the Steam Engine Day Queen Program.

Just recently Clara was inducted into the Winona State University Alumni Society Century Club.

"There is no secret to my longevity," Carla admitted. "My advice would be to be honest, eat healthy - vegetables and fruit, exercise and work hard."