Oldest Woman in U.S. Dies


Bessie Laurena Hendricks celebrates her 115th birthday in Des Moines, Iowa, in November | Image by KCCI

The once-oldest living person in the U.S. died at the age of 115 this past Tuesday, January 3.

Bessie Laurena Hendricks was a resident of Lake City, Iowa. She passed away at the Shady Oaks Care Center, according to Lampe & Powers Funeral Home in Lake City.

Hendricks celebrated her 115th birthday on November 7. The Gerontology Research Group listed her as the oldest living person in the U.S. last year. The organization additionally listed her as the fourth oldest person in the world.

Hendricks was born in 1907 in Calhoun County, Iowa. She lived through the beginnings of the FBI being established in 1908, both World Wars, the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, the Great Depression, and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, as well as Y2K and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hendricks had five children and worked as a teacher in Des Moines. She is survived by three of her children.

In an interview with The Fort Dodge Messenger when she turned 110, she said the key to living a long and successful life is “hard work.” Hendricks was also known to love her sweets, as her son said.

Her obituary notes, “She was an inspiration to many and will be dearly missed by those who knew and loved her. Her family takes peace in knowing that she is smiling down from above while enjoying a treat and humming along to one of her favorite songs.”

Hendricks’ funeral service was held at Lampe & Powers Funeral Home on Saturday, January 7.

Now, the oldest living person in the U.S. is believed to be Edie Ceccarelli of California, who was born in 1908 and is 114 years old.

María Branyas Morera is only around 65 days away from being 116 years old. Though she was of U.S. origin and born in California, she cannot be considered the oldest person living in the U.S., as she now resides in Spain.

The oldest person living in the world is France resident Lucile Randon, who will be 119 years old in a little over a month.

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