Bessie Hendricks of Iowa lived through the roaring ’20s, the Great Depression, World Wars, and the dawn of the internet age in the midst of a global pandemic.
She passed away on Tuesday at Shady Oaks Care Center in Lake City, presumed to be the oldest individual in the United States, at the remarkable age of 115.
Hendricks, who was born on November 7, 1907, taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Calhoun County, where she raised five children, outliving the other one.
When she turned 112, Messenger Dodge Fort Hendricks told her the secret to her longevity: make sure to enjoy a delicious slice of cake or a piece of pie, stay away from sweets, and work hard.
The funeral service for Hendricks will be held at Powers and Lampe Funeral Home in City Lake at 2:30 p.M. On January 7th. Additionally, there will be a livestream available on the net powersfh.Website, directed by Morris Dana, at the funeral home.
Morris declared that the event will include a tribute to Hendricks’ extraordinary life, which will incorporate readings of memoirs written by her deceased daughter.
Additionally, a woman has lost her title as the oldest teacher in Iowa.
Edie Ceccarelli, who passed away on February 5th at the age of 115, holds the title of being the oldest living American in Los Angeles, as documented by the Group Research Gerontology in California.
Iowa is home to a large number of individuals who have reached the age of 100 or older.
Additionally, in 2012, Dina Manfredini from Johnston achieved the distinction of being the oldest individual in both the United States and the entire world at the age of 115. It is worth noting that Hendricks was not the first Iowan to hold the esteemed position of the oldest person in America.
She was raised in Des Moines, where her family worked at a munitions plant during World War II, filling shells with gunpowder on an assembly line. In addition, she worked as a miner’s wife at a food processing plant, cracking eggs to earn extra money and have some time for herself. She was originally from Italy.
In her late 90s, Manfredini would clean houses and clear her own driveway during harsh winter days.
She and Hendricks were among a plethora of centenarians in Iowa, attracting the focus of researchers.
If the share of the population is still tiny, it will be significantly larger.
Peter Martin, an Iowa State professor whose area of expertise is lifespan development and longevity, elucidates that there are numerous variables that could potentially account for why Iowa is an ideal location for individuals who live to be 100 years old or older.
“It’s because we experience freezing temperatures for half of the year,” he said with a chuckle.
Besides humor, Martin also noted that the severe winters in Iowa genuinely fortify individuals, a trait that contributes to their long lifespan.
Martin stated, “both literally and metaphorically, we possess the ability to endure difficult situations. And this is where the frigid climate becomes relevant. When facing pressure, it is essential to possess a strong and durable character in order to excel. Our studies have provided evidence of this.”
Martin said that Iowans have particularly fortunate qualities, as they possess the ability to connect with nature and enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. They also benefit from a lower-stress lifestyle, with access to healthcare, family support, and genetic factors that contribute to longevity.
The population of individuals aged 100 and older, which accounts for 0.6%, is a mere 330 individuals nationwide, according to the 2010 census. Among those who surpass the age of 110, there are supercentenarians like Manfredini and Hendricks.
Furthermore, the life expectancy of Americans is declining, undoing the improvements in health achieved over the past 25 years.
While it is rare to live to the age of 110, Martin claimed that it truly showcases a person’s strength and outlook on life.
He stated, “Once you surpass 115, it becomes exceedingly challenging.” “The fact that you are able to achieve something that you never anticipated is truly a blessing each year.”