Greg Krueger got his driver’s license when he was 4 years old.
He was married when he was 7.
And he even retired when he was just a teenager.
The rural Hixton man has been way ahead of the curve when it came to life’s milestones.
But it’s really because he’s a leap year baby – born on Feb. 29, 1952, and only able to celebrate his birthday on the actual day once every four years.
Krueger really will turn 64 years old next week on leap day, but he’s only had 16 “leap” birthdays in his lifetime.
“I personally have not put a lot of emphasis on my birthday – some people emphasize their birthday a lot,” he said. “I’ve never felt cheated because I was born on leap year. We always managed to celebrate (my birthday) every year, so nothing was different from really anyone else – that’s the way I felt.
“It’s just an accidental fate.”
Krueger was born and grew up in Black River Falls, and he doesn’t remember how he became aware he would have a different experience with birthdays than a majority of the population. His parents tended to pick a day that was convenient to celebrate when it wasn’t leap year and the calendar didn’t have a Feb. 29 date – typically choosing Feb. 28 or March 1.
He remembers feeling like every birthday was special but that a little extra emphasis was placed on the day when it was Feb. 29.
“We pretty much celebrated my birthday as a regular birthday,” he said. “It’s just when I was young, then it was a little more emphasis on the actual four-year birthday, but not as much anymore.”
As an adult, Krueger also tended to pick Feb. 28 or March 1 on non-leap years for marking the day. He jokes that the two days may have combined into one larger celebration when he was in his 20s.
“When I was young, in my 20s, I probably started celebrating on Feb. 28 and then I continued to celebrate right through March 1,” he laughs. “I try to deemphasize birthdays a little bit now as (I) get older. You kind of like almost forget them. You really don’t care that they’re happening.
“Life has been good to us, so we try to celebrate every day or as much as we can.”
Wife Annette also says Krueger’s leap birthday hasn’t been “any big idea,” but sometimes others are interested when they hear of the lesser-experienced milestone.
“They get a big smile, like, ‘Oh, really?’” she said. “That’s kind of the surprise people have. ‘Oh, you’re a leap year baby.’”
The couple, too, handles the day of celebration similar to Krueger’s parents – typically picking Feb. 28 or March 1. There sometimes has been something a little extra special when Feb. 29 rolls around – this year, some family is visiting the Kruegers for a party while they vacation in Florida.
“There’s nothing shocking or alarming to us about leap year, but it is, I guess,” Annette said.
Krueger jokes that he’s looking forward to some teenage milestones this year since he’s marking his 16th leap birthday.
“So I’m looking forward to getting my driver’s license and my first kiss,” he quipped.