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Iowa woman believed to be longest living American dies, aged 115


A woman in Iowa believed to be the oldest living person in the United States, having lived through historic events ranging from the two world wars and the Great Depression to the Spanish flu and the COVID-19 pandemic, has passed away at age 115.

Bessie Hendricks died on Tuesday at a senior living facility in Lake City, according to Lampe & Powers Funeral Home.

Hendricks was born Nov. 7, 1907, and had been listed by the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group as the United States’ oldest living person.

She taught at a one-room schoolhouse in her native Calhoun County, Iowa and raised five children, two of whom she outlived, according to USA Today.

When she turned 112, Hendricks told local media that the secret of her long life was “hard work.” Her daughter said at the time that Hendricks hardly ever took medication and enjoyed sweets.

On her 115th birthday, the Shady Oaks Care Center, where Hendricks lived, wrote: “We all wish Bessie H. a very happy birthday for her 115th! She’s had an awesome day celebrating with her family and friends. The cake, flowers, gifts, and cards made the day extra special.”

Hendricks’ death has left Edie Ceccarelli of California as the oldest living American, the Gerontology Research Group data shows. Ceccarelli is set to turn 115 on Feb. 5.

Hendricks’ funeral service will be organized on Saturday at Lampe & Powers Funeral Home. It will include a tribute to her life and readings of memoirs written by her family, funeral director Dana Morris said.