114 years – and it continues… | News, Sports, Jobs


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Bessie Hendricks, who turned 114 on November 7, celebrated at Shady Oaks Care Center in Lake City on Saturday with her three living children, including (left to right) Joan Schaffer, Leon Hendricks and Glenda Hendricks, all of Lake City.

LAKE CITY – Age might just be a number, but now that Bessie Hendricks has turned 114, her numbers are truly impressive. Born November 7, 1907, the longtime Lake City resident is the oldest living in the Iowan. She is the third oldest person in America, her family notes. She is also the 14th oldest living person in the world, according to Gerontology Research Group data from October 2021.

“Mum is fine, and we got to see her for a while today”, Leon Hendricks of Lake City said on Saturday.

Hendricks, who lives at the Shady Oaks Care Center in Lake City, spent time celebrating with his children, including Glenda, Joan and Leon. The siblings also remembered their late brother Ron, as well as their sister Shirley Hunziker, who passed away in September 2021.

When she turned the big 1-1-4, Hendricks was given a star-shaped mylar happy birthday balloon, a pink rose, and a few other goodies. Her vibrant pink crown with the words “Happy birthday” added to the festivities.

“Mum doesn’t really talk much anymore, but she looked around and seemed to enjoy it when we were together” said Glenda Hendricks of Lake City.

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Bessie Hendricks of Lake City graduated from Lake City High School in 1926, taught in the country, married in 1930, and raised five children on the farm with her husband, Paul.

Supercentenarians remain rare

Hendricks is a Supercentennial (the term for people who live to their 110th birthday and beyond). It is an elite group. While there are roughly 60,000 centenarians (people who have reached their 100th birthday) in the United States, in 2017 there were only about 70 supercentenarians in America, according to Dr. Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine who directs Boston University School of Medicine’s New England Centennial Study.

In the United States and other industrialized countries, centenarians (people over 100) occur at a rate of about 1 in 6,000. Eighty-five percent of centenarians are women and 15 percent are women. one hundred are men. Supercentenarians like Hendricks are performing at a rate of about 1 in 5 million.

Perls’ research reveals the secret lives of Supercentenarians. Studies show that once people live past 100, the older they get, the less likely they are to spend time with age-related illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, dementia and more. strokes. They are also more likely to stay sharp physically and mentally for much of their life than people 10, 20, or 30 years younger.

Living to age 110 and beyond is largely genetic, said Perls, who noted in 2017 that there were around 350 supercentenarians in the world.

– Messenger file photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

Bessie has always loved her family, especially babies and children, as shown in this photo from years gone by.

A young mind cannot hurt either. When Hendricks was 111, she said she was 18 when people asked her how old she was.

Hendricks has always had a knack for not letting stress bother her, her family says. This supercentenary lived through the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and now COVID-19. When she turned 110, she shared her top tips for living a long, healthy life. “Work hard.”

Hendricks

embraced life on the farm

While Hendricks reached a milestone few in the world have reached, his beginnings were much the same as countless Iowans over a century ago.

Hendricks was born on a farm in Carroll County a few miles southeast of Auburn on November 7, 1907. She was taken in by her parents, Hugh and Mattie (Clark) Sharkey, and older siblings John, David, Laurence and Ethel. A younger sister, Anna, was born in 1910 after the family moved in 1908 to a 160-acre farm two miles east and one mile north of Lake City in Calhoun County.

At the age of 5, Hendricks started attending grade one (there was no kindergarten) at the country school opposite the family farm. When she was not at school, she helped with chores around the house.

“We children were always doing stupid things when people went to town” Hendricks recalls in her memoir, which she wrote in 1998-99 when she was in the early 90s.

One day, Hendricks and his siblings decided to make sweets.

“Oh yeah, it was good, but we couldn’t eat it all, so we had to get rid of it before people got home” recalls Hendricks. “So guess what? We took the taffy to the barn and gave it to one of the horses named Fox. We had a good laugh as we watched him wallow his tongue around that candy, but he didn’t. is cleared.

By the time Hendricks entered seventh grade, the local country school was closed due to a lack of students. Hendricks therefore attended the Central School in Lake City.

A more profound life change would come, however, when Hendricks’ mother died of illness on July 2, 1921. Suddenly, 13-year-old Hendricks had to take on many other household responsibilities.

She continued with her education, however, and graduated from Lake City High School in May 1926. A little over 90 years later, she attended the All Students Reunion in Lake City in the summer of 2016. “She appreciated” said Glenda Hendricks.

During his high school years, Hendricks went through normal training which allowed him to teach at the country school after graduation. Beginning in the fall of 1926, she taught at a country school in the Lake City area for four years.

Hendricks had 21 students in school during his first year of teaching.

“It was considered a great country school”, said Hendricks, who noted that some of his older students were almost his age.

Did she like to teach at school?

“Well of course I did,” she said.

Just before starting his final year of teaching, Hendricks attended a ball in Lohrville one evening with a friend named Art Hendricks, who had an older brother named Paul. As she came to the ball with Art, she was leaving with Paul, her family recalled.

After Paul and Bessie’s wedding on June 27, 1930 at Woodlawn Christian Church in Lake City, the couple lived in the small town of Rands in Calhoun County for almost three years. Paul Hendricks worked at the grain elevator and train depot, in addition to running a small store. The couple’s daughters, Shirley and Joan, were born around this time.

In March 1933, the young family moved to a farm east of Lake City which would be the home of the Hendricks for 47 years. The family has grown to include Roland (Ron), Glenda and Leon. “We worked hard on the farm” said Bessie Hendricks, whose husband raised crops, hay, cattle and pigs, while she cultivated a large garden, canned up to 800 liters of vegetables and fruit a year and served as a leader of 4-H.

Live life to the fullest

After Paul and Bessie Hendricks retired and organized their farm sale in 1979, they moved to a house in Lake City in July 1980. The couple were one month away from celebrating their 65th birthday when Paul died on the 25th. May 1995.

“He was a wonderful man,” said Hendricks.

In her later years, Hendricks remained busy helping her family with various projects, including processing 500 chickens one summer. She was also active in Woodlawn Christian Church, of which she has been a member for over 90 years.

Hendricks was fortunate enough to have a long, healthy and productive life, his family and friends agree. With the absence of serious illnesses and a few medications in his daily routine, Hendricks amazes his healthcare providers. Her doctor, Dr. Derek Duncan, of Lake City, called her her “Miraculous lady”.

Ironically, Hendricks shared some heartfelt advice several years ago when asked about his longevity secrets.

“She said, ‘Stay away from the doctors,'” said her daughter Glenda.

If Bessie Hendricks was still sharing any advice, she would probably encourage people not to pass up on dessert, especially the birthday cake.

“Mom still loves her candy” said Leon Hendricks.

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