WALKERVILLE, MICH. - The number of people living to be centenarians, which is age 100 or older, has been on the rise over the past several years. If you’re not one of the people who has crossed the 100-year threshold, the odds are in your favor that you might reach the milestone.
Turning triple-digits has already come and gone for a Coopersville woman and, unlike most who manage to reach her age, she lives life to the fullest every day.
When summer comes around every year, one of Ruth Brifling’s priorities becomes fishing on School Section Lake, which is located in the northeastern corner of Oceana County. Ruth’s daughter, Darlene Bond, along with Darlene’s husband, Joe, will drive from their lake cottage all the way down to Coopersville, pick up Ruth, and bring her back up to the cottage so she can spend a few days relaxing and fishing.
On July 2, 2017, Ruth invited WZZM up to the lake cottage to go fishing with her, and the “Our Michigan Life” team couldn’t turn down that opportunity.
Soon after we arrived, Ruth was being helped out of the cottage and onto a golf cart that was parked out front. She was wearing a shirt that said, “Shut up and fish.”
“I’m a good fisherman,” Ruth said, once she settled into the seat.
Ruth was driven to the boat launch where she was helped onto a pontoon boat. As soon as she settled in, she started sharing her 106-and-a-half-year life story.
“Both my parents were deaf, so they never could read to us,” Ruth said, referring to her 9 other siblings. “If any of us got sick, my parents couldn’t hear us, so we were left to cry it out.”
The boat arrived at Ruth favorite fishing spot. She pulled a big, juicy worm out of the can, and proceeded to worm the hook on her fishing pole. Once she had the bait set the way she wanted it, she cast her line into the water.
It didn’t take long for her to continue to share her life story. She was born in Coopersville, Michigan in 1910.
“I was married for 67 years, and my husband and I adopted two daughters,” said Ruth, as she kept a close eye om her bobber. Ruth married Nick Brifling in 1933.
He passed away in 1999. When asked how she made it to 106-years-old, Ruth said, “I don’t know; why am I still here?
“My mother died in her 40s.”
When asked what her secret to longevity was, she said, “I have always eaten lard and molasses sandwiches; I’ve eaten them all my life.”
Ruth’s long life has not been short on accomplishments and challenges. In the early 1950s, Ruth taught a Sunday school class. The small group she taught kept getting bigger and bigger. Eventually, the group became a congregation, and Coopersville Bible Church was born.
Ruth literally started the Church, which still exists today.
She attends most Sundays.
Ruth is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with colon cancer when she was 92.
“I beat it,” she said, while casting her line out into the lake.
She’s been cancer-free for 15 years.
Being nearly 107 hasn’t kept her from still being able to woo the boys.
“I have a boyfriend,” Ruth said. “He’s 88 and very feeble; he likes me a lot, but I’m not interested.”
While Ruth was revealing her tactics of playing “hard-to-get”, the fish in the lake decided not to.
“I got a bite,” Ruth said, as her bobber disappeared from the lake’s surface.
Ruth fought with the fish for about 3 minutes before reeling in about a 7-inch blue gill.
“I got me one,” she said. “God still has me here for a reason, and maybe that reason is fishing.”
Ruth Brifling will be 107-years old on December 12, 2017.
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