FOREST — While COVID-19 has suppressed many activities, residents of the village of Forest wanted to make sure a special birthday for one of their neighbors received the recognition it deserved.

Irene Rasdorf celebrated her 99th birthday Dec. 31. Her friends and neighbors wanted to do something to ensure her birthday was not forgotten so they erected a sign, placing it on the lawn in front of her home, asking those passing by to honk their vehicle horn to acknowledge her noteworthy day.

Neighbor Angie Deliman said, in the days leading up to Dec. 31, she had been giving a lot of thought to what could be done to observe Ransdorf’s birthday. “It had been on my mind. She is such a nice lady and she was going to be 99. I wanted to do something to make sure she wasn’t missed. Ninety-nine is quite a birthday,” she said.

Deliman crafted a two-sided sign. The message on the sign facing the street in front of Rasdorf’s home asked those passing by to honk their vehicle’s horn to wish her a happy day and the writing on the other side said “Happy 99th birthday Irene! We love you!”

Neighbor Amy Luzier said Rasdorf is a very significant part of her community. “She is a wonderful lady. I have known her all my life. She and my mother worked together for Bell Telephone and she babysat my kids. She is like family. She would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. Everyone thinks she is just wonderful.”

Irene’s son Dan Rasdorf said he was delighted the community would remember his mother on her natal day. “It was pretty special. Amazing really. She was pleasantly surprised,” he said.

Dan Rasdorf, who is one of Irene Rasdorf’s five children, said his mother is a transplant to the community, coming to Forest after marrying his father. “She got established here and built a nice life,” he noted.

He said his mother is a faithful reader of The Progress and enjoys entering its contests. She has won several of the newspaper’s contests but he said she doesn’t keep the prize money. “She donates it to her church, St. John’s Lutheran Church, and she always remembers the grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” he said.

Irene Rasdorf told The Progress, the celebration was “One of the most wonderful birthdays I’ve ever had in my life.”

“In my family we really didn’t celebrate birthdays all that much so to think they would do this for me is just wonderful,” she said, “I’ve been blessed by my friends and neighbors. They look after me and show me that they care.”

Irene Rasdorf said she saw quite a few vehicles and heard a number of horns on Dec. 31. “Someone even went through a couple times, backing up and blowing their horn,” she said.

Rasdorf said she moved to Forest in 1951. She grew up in Bay City, Mich., and after meeting her husband in Chicago, Ill., they married and returned to the area where he grew up to settle and raise their family.

She attributes her longevity to hard work and the knowledge that many care about her.

“When I was a little girl my family didn’t have much but I learned that you treat people the way you’d like to be treated and they will do that,” Irene Rasdorf said.

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