Oldest US person dies at 115 after sharing secret to long, happy life

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The oldest living person in America died Tuesday at age 115.

Bessie Hendricks was the oldest living person in the US and fourth in the world, according to Geronotology Research Group before she passed away at Shady Oaks Care Center in Lake City, Iowa, this week.

Hendricks was born in that city on Nov. 7, 1907, and she grew up on a farm. She later went on to raise five children, two of whom she outlived.

She married her husband Paul on June 27, 1930, and welcomed their children, Shirley, Joan, Roland, Glenda and Leon.

Hendricks taught in a one-room schoolhouse and filled shells with gunpowder on an assembly line at an ammunition plant during World War II, the Des Moines Register reported.

The Iowa native celebrated her 115th birthday with a party at Shady Oaks Care Center in Des Moines.
Alexandra Altman-Devilbiss

Hendricks and her husband were one month shy of celebrating their 65th anniversary when he passed away on May 25, 1995.

The supercentenarian lived through 21 presidents, the Spanish Influenza, the roaring ’20s, two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Vietnam War, Iraq War and Cold War, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

When she turned 110, Hendricks told the Fort Dodge Messenger that the secret to a long, successful life is “hard work.” But her son divulged that she also “[loved] her sweets.”

“A strong will and love of family keep Bessie going,” a care center administrator said on her birthday in 2019. “She appreciates life so much.”

She is now outlived by three of her children, nine grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, and 42 great-great-grandchildren.

Hendricks’ death now leaves California resident Edie Ceccarelli — who turns 115 on Feb. 5 — as the oldest living person in America.

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