The next Beautiful Woman, a woman who represents the beauty of wellnessFargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- What's the secret to a long life? Whatever it is, our next beautiful woman has found it, and lives it.
By: Kerstin Kealy, WDAY
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- What's the secret to a long life? Whatever it is, our next beautiful woman has found it, and lives it.
Just weeks from her 100th birthday, Bea Ihlenfeld has an infectious laugh and an inspirational spirit. It made us all want to live life to its fullest.
Our Beautiful Women Team had the pleasure of meeting this humble grandmother of 5 at her home in South Fargo, where she had us all in awe with her energy, quick wit, vivid memories. She represents the beauty of wellness.
Like clockwork, several times a week, you can find Bea Ihlenfeld here. In the pool. Gliding through the water, will the motivation and energy of a woman half her age.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "You have to like what you're doing and I like sports."
A regular at the the gym at Touchmark where she lives in South Fargo, she often teaches the young ones - the 80 year olds - how to swim and amazes and charms everyone she meets.
Mark Minette/Touchmark: "Her inner person, is probably the most beautiful person I've ever met."
Ellen Tliiman/Touchmark: "She has got the most upbeat, positive, fun-loving attitude towards everybody here."
At 99 years old, she has more than a few stories to share
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "Money was scarce in those days."
And they have been a full 99 years.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "Well, that's another story I'm going to tell you."
The only girl in the middle of 2 brothers she is a self proclaimed tom boy to this day, a loyal Bison fan who just gave up hunting and fishing a handful of years ago..
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "I got interested in sports, mother couldn't tame me to work in the kitchen."
Her father, a minister who was ahead of his time - gave her the freedom to try what made her happy.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "He would get up on a frosty morning and fill the tub with cold water because that would wake us up and it was good for us he thought."
They were an active family, growing up in Illinois - where they swam one a week at the rock river.. Where she had her brush with a future president.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "Who was the lifeguard at the river pool? You wouldn't believe it. It was Ronald Regan, yeah. Of course we didn't know that he was going to be president."
Her determination lead her to be the first female letter winner and 3 time state tennis champion at Carthage College in Illinois.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "I tell you that opened some more doors for me, I was so lucky."
It's there she met her future husband during a pick up softball game on the first day of school.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "This catcher said you wanna play ball? Sure, what position is open? You can go down there to second base. I remember it well because this is the guy I married see."
Fred, was a lutheran minister like her father and that calling brought them from Illinois to Fargo. But their love affair would be far too short. He died with an enlarged heart at the age of 42 from a childhood illness. They had two daughters and after 13 years of marriage - she was on her own and would never remarry.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "It was a love match you know, like you girls like to read about."
She spent the decade to follow dedicated to her family and education. She worked as a phy-ed teacher, a dean and counselor at Fargo Central and South.. And has been a champion of women's sports and equal opportunity.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "And that was my whole philosophy of teaching phy-ed. Get interested in something and then follow through on it in your adult life."
Even today she stays active with students by sharing her stories and wisdom through a pen pal program...
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "We need to understand each other a little better."
And she will forever be remembered for her involvement at the YMCA with this mural dedicated to her on her 90th birthday.
With no real secrets to life, Bea says it's simply about staying connected to the people and world around you and doing what you love.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "Just look around you. If you get fed up with what you're doing. Look around and see how many people have it tougher that you do and enjoy what you've got."
With a lifetime knowledge that could fill the pages of a volume of books.
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "If we think less about ourselves and more about the people around us, we'd be a lot happier."
Still writing new chapters, staying active, and as she says, staying preserved in chlorine!
Bea Ihlenfeld/The Beauty Of Wellness: "Don't let anybody tell you you can't do some of these things as you get older. I know you can because I've proved it."
You can hear more about Bea in Monday's Forum and on the Christopher Gabriel Program on 970 WDAY radio at 12:35 Monday.
If you know someone with an incredible story like Bea's, nominate her and share her story today at beautifulwomenof.areavoices.com