Woman celebrating 115th birthday is oldest living person in the US

Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 2:53 PM CST
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LAKE CITY, Iowa (KCCI) – An Iowa woman celebrated her 115th birthday Monday, making her now the oldest person in the United States.

Bessie Hendricks has lived through 21 presidents, two World Wars, a depression, the sinking of the Titanic and two Chicago Cubs World Series Championships.

Besides being the oldest living American, according to the Gerontology Research Group, Henricks is the 10th oldest person living in the world.

Hendricks spent her special day surrounded by her children, the eldest of which is Joan Schaffer.

Schaffer just celebrated her 90th birthday a day earlier.

“I don’t know how you put it into words,” Schaffer said. “It’s marvelous that we still have her.”

All of the kids have the same description of their mother: hard-working and with a lot that was asked of her from a young age.

“Her mother died when she was about 13, I think mom was about 13 years old,” Schaffer said. “And she raised her siblings after that. 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.”

The Shady Oaks Care Center hosted the rare birthday party, with employees helping celebrate.

Henricks’ children all sang her favorite song to her, “You Are My Sunshine.”

Her son, Leon Hendricks, said his mother 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,’” he said. “And ... the residents, look forward to it every day, too.”

Bessie Hendricks got to be the audience to her favorite song this time.

“She’s always caring about her family,” Leon Hendricks said. “She always did that. Family came first to mom. Always.”