Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Utah man celebrates 100th birthday by dancing the night away

Family, friends and a positive attitude — along with the rhythm for the dance floor — keep Tinggaard going.

First Published Feb 28 2014 07:17 pm • Last Updated Feb 28 2014 09:50 pm

Murray • When the seniors take to the dance floor at the Heritage Center each week, Karl Tinggaard is among the first there and the last to leave, gliding around the venue all evening.

Not bad for a centenarian.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

On Thursday, Tinggaard’s family and friends celebrated his 100th birthday at the center with cake, ice cream, presents and, of course, dancing. The birthday boy kept a promise to dance with every woman there.

"This keeps me going," Tinggaard said. "Look at all the exercise I get in three hours. I dance with all these beautiful women."

Tony Summerhays, the one-man band who provides the music at the weekly dances, said Tinggaard "can dance all night." One of his regular dance partners, Riekie Shields, said her friend knows all the dances, including the tango, her favorite.

"Some guys don’t have the rhythm," she said. "He does."

Tinggaard also is liked for his sense of humor and his cheerful demeanor. Venus Cederstrom calls him a live wire who’s full of energy, while Chuck Kreher describes him as a "fun guy."

"He’s really popular," Kreher said. "When he’s dancing, that’s really something."

Tinggaard, a retired engineer, was born Feb. 27, 1914, in Denmark and raised on a farm. He and his wife, Esther, first moved to the United States in the 1950s with their only child, Sonja, and lived in Chicago, among other places.

The family eventually moved back to Denmark but Sonja found her way back. She fell in love with Utah while on a vacation, sold her belongings and moved to the Beehive State with her two children in the 1980s. A few years later, her parents followed.

story continues below
story continues below

Outside of his work as an engineer, Tinggaard found plenty to keep him busy. He played violin in a band called the Old Swingers, which put out two albums on cassette tape. He loved golf and gardening, danced a lot, did wood sculpting and traveled extensively.

"He’s always doing something," longtime friend Erly Pedersen said. "He never sits at home."

When he is home, Tinggaard — who lives in Taylorsville with his granddaughter, Jennifer Miller, and two of her daughters — loves to read, watch soccer on TV and play with his cat Blondie. He Skypes with two great-granddaughters who live in Kuwait but has declined to make use of another modern convenience, joking that he is the only person in the world without a cell phone.

He also likes to look at his photos and reminisce, especially about his beloved wife, who passed away in 1990. The two were together for 55 years.

"I still miss her," Tinggaard said.

He also misses his daughter, who died at age 71 two years ago, but is grateful for what he does have.

"What a wonderful thing to have so many friends," he said at his birthday party, which drew more than 100 people.

Tinggaard attributes his longevity to his sunny disposition.

My secret," he said, "is to be in a good mood all the time, to smile, to laugh."

pmanson@sltrib.com Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.