Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, the world’s oldest person, died in her sleep on Aug. 30. She was 115.
Born prematurely in 1890, Van Andel-Schipper’s mother once declared: “This child is not meant to live.” Henny not only lived, she thrived into her supercentenarian years. She didn’t attend school but learned to read and write at home.
Van Andel-Schipper grew up in Smilde, Netherlands. She lived with her parents for 47 years and taught needlework. Then in 1939, at the age of 49, she married Dick van Andel, a tax inspector. The couple moved to Hoogeveen, where she sold her jewelry to pay for food during the German occupation. Her husband died of cancer in 1959. They had no children.
Van Andel-Schipper underwent a mastectomy in 1995 after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 100. She moved to the Westerkim retirement home when she was 106, but remained fairly healthy in her later years. One of the highlights of her life was meeting Queen Beatrix for tea in 2001.
The Guinness Book of World Records declared Van Andel-Schipper to be the world’s oldest person in May 2004. When asked for the secret of longevity, she said she ate right and never smoked or drank too much alcohol. Van Andel-Schipper also suggested people eat pickled herring, drink orange juice and “keep breathing.”
“She was very clear mentally right up to the end, but the physical ailments were increasing. She said, ‘It’s been nice, but the man upstairs says it’s time to go,'” Johan Beijering, the director of the nursing home where she lived, said.
Van Andel-Schipper donated her body to science. The oldest authenticated person is now Elizabeth Bolden, 115, of Memphis, Tenn.