SNOW GOING: 98-year-old Minn. man shovels for self, others - Dallas News |

SNOW GOING: 98-year-old Minn. man shovels for self, others

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Most Minnesotans have spent a fair bit of time with a snow shovel in hand, but one 98-year-old man has been digging himself out -- and his neighbors -- for at least half a century and doesn't plan to stop soon.

The year Howard Gustafson was born, Harry Houdini was still performing, women didn't have the right to vote, and Alexander Gram Bell made the first long-distance call. Nearly a century later, he's proving that no one is ever too old to be a good neighbor.

"I guess I like everything neat, inside and outside the house," Gustafson reasoned.

If this week's winter storm is the beginning of the winter wonderland in Minnesota, Gustafson may be old man winter. Although he retired from the United States Post Office nearly 40 years ago, he's hardly kicking back and taking it easy.

Gustafson was born during WWI, and he served in WWII. In the 1950s, he moved to South St. Paul with his wife to raise their family. Since then, whenever it snows, he picks up the shovel -- or turns to one of his two snowblowers.

"I call them my winter toys," he said. "They're toys because I'm in my second childhood."

At the ripe age of 98, he even digs out his 90-year-old next-door neighbor.

"She doesn't have any money to hire anyone, and I suppose I'm testing my muscles," Gustafson grinned.

Sometimes, he even clears the snow for half a dozen neighbors even though most of them are half his age.

"I'm the one who's supposed to be getting some help," Gustafson quipped. "I'd like to go out and watch other people work for a change."

Until they do -- and even if they do, Gustafson has no plans to put away his shovel any time soon.

"I like the rhythm," he said with a laugh.

So it seems that even the coldest seasons reveal the warmest of hearts.

The near-centurion told Fox 9 News he gets his energy from oatmeal, saying "if it's good enough for horses, it's good enough for me." He also joked that he keeps shoveling to try and kill himself off or test his longevity -- but his helpful streak doesn't stop with the spring thaw. He also mows his neighbor's lawns in summer and even gets his church ready for Sunday service before dancing with the choir.

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