By Mari Heithoff, Cowboy State Daily
After a lifetime filled with adventures, from run-ins with Nazis to climbing the Grand Teton at 76, Wyoming’s oldest resident is sharing her secret to longevity.
“Eat dark chocolate and drink red wine,” said Inger Koedt, who turned 105 on Jan. 15.
Koedt, who has lived in Wyoming for 66 years, has certainly made the most of her long life thus far.
During a phone interview with Koedt and her friend and caretaker Sylvia Vroman, Koedt shared some unique memories of the past and of her experiences.
Born in Denmark in 1915, Koedt lived through both world wars in Europe.
During the occupation of Denmark during World War II, she and her husband sheltered Jewish refugees in their home and helped smuggle them to safety in Sweden.
“It was a hard time,” she said, “but everyone was doing it, so you didn’t worry you would get turned in.”
Koedt and Vroman reminisced about an experience which sounds as though it comes straight from a book about the war. “Tell her about the time the Nazis ate dinner with you and your kids,” Vroman suggested.
Koedt chuckled and explained that some Nazis invited themselves to dinner while some the family was sheltering some Jewish refugees in their house. At the time, her children were very young, and she and her husband had to be careful that they knew what to say.
“It all depended on the children telling the right lies to the Nazis,” Koedt explained. “It was a scary time.”
Fortunately, the soldiers did not discover the identities of the Koedt family’s guests.
After the war was over, the Koedts began to look to America for a new home.
Although they initially moved to California, where her husband Bob was born and had family and job opportunities, Wyoming has been Koedt’s home for over half a century. The couple and their three children settled in Jackson Hole in 1956, where Koedt promptly fell in love with the mountains.
An avid adventurer, Koedt was an active skier, mountaineer, and climber for decades. For years, she climbed the Grand Teton annually, most recently when she was 76.
“People used to come and watch me and cheer,” Koedt chuckles, “But I climbed just to have fun.”
She said that after a while the mountain got a little “boring,” but added she has also climbed many other mountains besides the Grand.
She reminisced fondly about her outdoor adventures, including rock climbing and hiking. Many of her activities involved family and friends, and she got into rock climbing in her 60s or 70s because, as she explained, “I liked to climb with my son.” Although her son Peter passed away years ago, she has remained active.
Skiing was a favorite sport, and Koedt still got out in the snow until she broke her hip last year. While she can still walk, she also attends physical therapy, and amazingly, her health continues to improve.
One skiing adventure was a winter camping trip with her son and other friends when she was about 70. The group skied to Lake Solitude, where Koedt’s son built an igloo for them to sleep in. Koedt affirmed the solidity of its construction: “It was very warm.”
Koedt attributed her fondness for Wyoming winters to her experiences of Danish winters.
“I love the snow,” Koedt explained. “I love winter, but Denmark was dark. I love the sun here.”
She also enjoys the simple pleasures of life, and is a well-known Jackson Hole cook.
In 1967, after Koedt and her family had lived in Jackson for over a decade, she and her husband opened a restaurant known as the Mangy Moose Spaghetti Emporium. The cafe was one of the few restaurants located near the ski slopes to provide sustenance to both skiers and locals, and Koedt herself worked as a cook.
The cafe developed a unique menu which combined Danish dishes and American cuisine, serving Danish sandwiches known as smorrebrod alongside spaghetti and hearty soups and stews.
The Mangy Moose has since grown to become one of the most popular hangouts near the slopes, and Koedt, of course has long since retired.
Fortunately, this talented cook’s recipes are still available in print form. Koedt and several friends collaborated to publish a cookbook entitled “From Smorrebrod to Subs,” which features Koedt’s signature recipes and many original Mangy Moose classics.
Koedt’s favorite recipe is for pate, a sandwich spread popular in Denmark which can be made from various types of meat. Other favorite foods include salmon and any variety of potatoes, as well as dark chocolate and red wine. Koedt jokingly attributes her long life to the last two.
She had some additional tips for longevity.
“Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, always be happy,” she said. “Don’t hold grudges.”
Relationships with family and friends also form an integral part of Koedt’s life. Though her husband has passed away and her children do not live nearby, Koedt says that “having someone to love, having your children,” is the most important part of life.
Despite her years, Koedt still maintains an incredible level of activity and vibrant energy, as well as a good sense of humor. She loves to be outside, regardless of the weather, simply being present in nature, and has a fondness for tulips and wildflowers. Koedt remains active in her community and enjoys forming friendships with people of all ages. She often spends time with friends, sharing drinks and memories, and enjoys going for walks and watching local wildlife in and around Jackson Hole.