After witnessing some life-changing events, including two world wars, two pandemics, and multiple destructive natural disasters, an Iowa woman celebrated her 115th birthday on Monday and set a world record.
Bessie Hendricks’ cake didn’t have enough space to put 115 candles on it when she became the oldest living person in the U.S. on November 7, 2022. The woman from Lake City, Iowa, was surrounded by her children on her special day.
Bessie’s life was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride, but she never gave up during the difficult phases of her life. The woman has dozens of inspirational stories to tell, and her children can testify to how hard she has worked all her life.
The Birthday Girl
Bessie lives at Shady Oaks Care Center in Lake City, Iowa, where she celebrated her 115th birthday. Her family often visits her, but it was special when they came to see her this time.
Before Bessie became one of the few people who lived past a hundred and ten years, she lived a life full of ups and downs. The Iowan was born on November 7, 1907, and was the family’s fifth child.
She grew up on a farm in Calhoun County near Lake City and began attending school after she turned five. Everything was going well for the little girl until a tragedy turned her life upside down.
A Life-Changing Tragedy
The then-13-year-old Bessie had never imagined losing her mother at such a young age. After her mother passed away, she did the household chores and cared for her younger sister after school. Her life wasn’t like other girls her age.
Bessie’s children surrounded her while she wore a pink “Happy Birthday” crown.
After working hard for years, Bessie began teaching at a country school soon after graduating from Lake City High School in 1926. She had taken a course that allowed her to teach country school students.
Bessie enjoyed teaching and revealed that the school she worked at was one of the best country schools then. She also said that some of her students were almost her age.
Falling In Love
Bessie’s life took a different turn soon after she went to a dance with her friend, Art Hendrick, one evening. That night, she met Art’s older brother, Paul Hendrick, unaware he would be her future husband.
On June 27, 1930, Bessie married Paul and began a new chapter in her life. Three years and two kids later, the couple moved to a farm outside Lake City, where they spent the next few decades.
“We worked hard on the farm,” Bessie recalled. Paul worked on increasing their crop yield and raised many animals on their farm while Bessie took care of the vegetable gardens. Together, the couple raised their five children and lived a good life.
In 1980, the couple sold their farm and moved to a house in Lake City, where they planned to live a peaceful life together, but fate had other plans. About 15 years later, Paul breathed his last, leaving Bessie alone.
After her husband’s death, Bessie kept herself busy with her children and other activities like participating in the local events at the church. She had never thought she would set up a world record a few years later.
Besides her children, Bessie has a big family, which includes nine grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, 42 great-great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-great-grandchildren. Her eldest living daughter, Joan Schaffer, said:
“It’s marvelous that we still have her.”
A day after Schaffer turned 90, she visited Shady Oaks Care Center to celebrate Bessie’s 115th birthday. Besides being the oldest person in the U.S., Bessie is also the fourth oldest person in the world, making it to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Singing Her Favorite Song
On her birthday, Bessie, who wore a pink “Happy Birthday” crown, was surrounded by her children. They sang her favorite song, “You Are My Sunshine,” and helped her cut her birthday cake.
“Family came first to mom. Always,” her son, Leon Hendricks, said. Meanwhile, Glenda Hendricks, Bessie’s daughter, said Bessie didn’t speak much, but she enjoyed her big day.
Bessie Hendricks and Her Children. | Source: youtube.com/KCCI
According to Bessie’s doctor, Derek Duncan, Bessie is his “Miracle Lady” because she doesn’t have any health complications, while many people her age aren’t as healthy as her. May this be a sign that Bessie will continue to live many more years with her family.
Happy birthday, Bessie! We wish you many more special moments with your children. Keep inspiring your younger generations to work hard as you did.
Share Bessie’s story with your friends and family to brighten their day.
Click here to read about how the oldest living WWII nurse celebrated her 108th birthday in August wearing a “Birthday Queen” crown, surrounded by her daughter and caretakers.