Bessie Hendricks Oldest Person in the United States Dies at Age 115 

Bessie Hendricks from Iowa lived through the Roaring ’20s, the Great Depression, two World Wars, the beginning of the Internet age, and a global pandemic.

At 115, she was thought to be the oldest person in the U.S. when she died Tuesday at a senior living facility in Lake City. Hendricks, who was born on November 7, 1907, taught at a one-room schoolhouse in her home state.

She had five children, two of whom died before she did. When she turned 112, Hendricks revealed the secret to her longevity to the Fort Dodge Messenger: work hard, avoid physicians, and eat sweets, such as a delicious slice of pie or a slice of birthday cake.

After Hendricks died, Edie Ceccarelli of California became the oldest living American, according to a running count kept by the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles. She is about to turn 115 on Feb. 5.

American Centenarians and Supercentenarians

According to the Exceptional Longevity Laboratory at Iowa State University, centenarians are people who live past 100. According to the 2010 census, there were 53,364 centenarians living in the United States. This was about 0.017% of the country’s population.

Peter Martin, a professor at Iowa State whose research focuses on lifespan development and longevity, says that genes, family support, health care, a low-stress lifestyle, and the ability to get outside and connect with nature all play a role in how long a person lives.

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Hendricks was a supercentenarian, which is someone who lives past 110. As of the 2010 census, there were 330 supercentenarians in the country, which is only 0.6% of the population of centenarians.

Martin said that living past 110 is a true test of one’s strength and outlook on life. “After 115 it gets very difficult,” he said. “Every year is really a gift that you get that you could not have expected to get.”

On January 7 at 2:30 p.m., a funeral service for Hendricks will be held at the Lampe and Powers Funeral Home in Lake City. Funeral director Dana Morris said that the service will be a tribute to Hendricks’s amazing life and will include readings from her daughter’s memoirs.

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