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A day to celebrate
Malin to honor former resident on her 100th birthday
After living 99 years and 363 days, Millie Tofell isn’t ready to call it quits.
Not with the town of Malin, a community that’s been her home for 78 years, planning to celebrate her 100th birthday in style on Saturday.“The people, the school, the principals, just everything fit right in,” the nearly 100-year old Tofell says of life in Malin, adding with a grin, “It’s a wonderful little community.”
Malin on Saturday will celebrate Millie Tofell Day. Festivities begin at 1 p.m. with a barbecue, entertainment and a cake cutting at Malin Community Park.The Malin City Council earlier this month declared Saturday as Tofell’s day in appreciation of her decades as a teacher and community member.
“Everyone loves Millie,” says Kay Neumeyer, city recorder.But Tofell didn’t immediately love the area.
Coming to MalinHer first job after graduating from Southern California’s Occidential College in 1933, at the peak of the Great Depression, was at Carr School, a one teacher school between Malin and Tulelake.
“The first thing I did was call my mother with tears in my eyes,” she remembers. “I said, ‘You’ll just never know. Come see me soon.’ ”Tofell spent that first year teaching 13 students in all grades, while serving as the school principal, art teacher, physical education instructor, janitor and school yard clean-up woman.
She also learned about poverty, recalling how students would “scrap for the drippings from my canned soup.”She spent three years at Carr, which no longer exists, before transferring to Malin School, which had elementary through high school classes. During those early years she was invited to a Malin dance, going only reluctantly.
“I thought, Oh these people won’t know how to dance.’ ”She remembers wearing a red dress and being asked to dance by Emil Tofell — and what followed.
“We lighted around the dance floor like ducks on water, and that really impressed me.”Impressed her enough that they married in 1938.
“Let me tell you, he was one in a million.”In the following years, Emil became a carpenter and built homes, including their first.
She earned a teaching certificate from Southern Oregon University and interspersed teaching with raising the couple’s three children: Jim, a retired Roseburg teacher; Tom, a Texas horseman; and Dan, a retired Klamath Falls police chief and current Klamath Falls City Council member.She retired from full-time teaching in 1977, but spent another 20 years as a substitute. During her years at Malin, and later at Lost River High School after the Malin secondary school closed, she was known for coaching state champion debate teams.
“People didn’t like us. We won. Winners are unpopular,” she says.Tofell remains popular in Malin, as evidenced by the city’s upcoming Saturday celebration, one that she’s eagerly anticipating.
“I have done some things wrong, but I must have done something right to be a 100,” Tofell says with a grin. “I’m not in tip-top shape, but I’m not dead.”firstname.lastname@example.org
Page Updated: Sunday August 28, 2011 01:31 AM Pacific
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