An Iowa woman celebrated her 115th birthday on Monday, making her officially the oldest person alive in the United States. According to reports, Bessie Hendricks celebrated the momentous occasion with a party at Shady Oaks Care Center, where she lives in Lake City, Iowa.
All three of Hendricks’ surviving children attended the party, including daughter Joan Schaffer, who also celebrated her 90th birthday the previous day.
“I don’t know how you put it into words,” Schaffer told news outlets. “It’s marvelous that we still have her.” Despite struggling to find the words, all of her children can agree on one that perfectly describes their mom: hardworking.
In addition, they add that she had a lot on her plate at a young age.
“Her mother died when she was about 13. I think mom was about 13 years old, and she raised her siblings after that,” Schaffer said. “And when she taught school, she lived right across the road from where she taught school, so she had no reason not to go, not to make it to school.”
“She’s always caring about her family,” said Leon Hendricks, her son. “She always did that. Family came first to mom. Always.”
Bessie Hendricks becomes the oldest living person in US, has lived through 21 presidents
Earlier this year, Hendricks became the oldest living woman in the United States after Thelma Sutcliffe died at the age of 115 years and 108 days old. The Gerontology Research Group currently now lists her as the fourth oldest person in the world.
As a result, Hendricks has officially lived through 21 presidents, two world wars, a depression, the sinking of the Titanic, and two Chicago Cubs World Series championships.
The Shady Oaks Care Center hosted the historic birthday party, with employees also in attendance to help celebrate. Beyond classics like “Happy Birthday,” her children also sang her favorite song during the party.
“She loves to sing. We used to wheel her around her in Shady Oaks and every room we’d stop at she’d still sing, ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ And I, the residents look forward to it every day, too,” said Hendricks.
However, this time Bessie got to be an audience member as her kids sang her favorite song. “She’s always caring about her family. She always did that,” Hendricks said. “Family came first to mom. Always.”
Besides being the oldest person in the United States, according to the Gerontology Research Group, Hendricks is also the 10th oldest living person in the world.
According to their reports, Lucile Randon of France is the oldest known living person, at 118 years and 273 days. The oldest living man is Juan Vicente Pérez Mora, of Venezuela, aged 113 years, 168 days.