North Dakota woman celebrates 103rd birthday as marshal in homecoming parade

WATFORD CITY, N.D. — A longtime North Dakota resident celebrated her 103rd birthday in style, serving as the grand marshal in the homecoming parade for the high school she graduated from 86 years ago.

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Olga Marsten Hovet, of Watford City, beamed as she rode in a convertible as Watford City High School’s oldest living graduate, KFYR-TV reported.

“I just thought it was exciting,” she told the television station.

Hovet was born in McKenzie County on Oct. 14, 1919, the daughter of Thorvald and Emma Marsten, according to online vital records on She grew up on a farm about 15 miles south of Watford City and then lived on a farm after marrying her husband, Walter Hovet, on Sept. 21, 1941.

Olga Hovet attended country school for several years, but when she went to school in Watford City, she had to move to town, the McKenzie County Farmer reported.

When she was 9 years old, Hovet broke her leg while following behind a horse on a sleigh, the newspaper reported in 2019, when she turned 100.

”I had to sit out for a while after that,” Hovet told the McKenzie County Farmer. “We were on our way to a birthday and having so much fun.”

After graduating from Watford City High School in 1936, Hovet attended Minot State Teachers College for two years, according to online records. The 1940 census lists her as a teacher at a rural school, but by the 1950 census, she and her husband were on a farm raising their children.

Olga and Walter Hovet raised 10 children. He died in June 1997.

Six of their sons played football at Watford City High School. One of her sons drove the convertible during the Oct. 14 homecoming parade, KFYR reported.

Students from her alma mater came to the Good Shepherd Home, where Hovet lives, to wish her a happy birthday and sing to her.

“I’m an old, old lady,” Hovet told KFYR with a laugh.

Kristin Rhone, the activity director at Good Shepherd, said that Hovet “just beamed.”

“She beamed the entire time. She was waving like a queen. She ate it up,” Rhone told the television station. “She was beautiful and radiant, it brought tears to your eyes because you can see what joy it brought her.”