Thelma Sutcliffe has had quite a few birthdays, but her celebration on October 1, 2021, will be extra special. At 115 years old, Sutcliffe is the oldest American alive, as the Omaha World-Herald reports.
The Omaha, Nebraska, native has held the distinction of being the oldest person in the U.S. since April 17, when the previous record-holder Hester Ford passed away. This Friday marks her first birthday as the country's eldest resident. When Sutcliffe was born in 1906, Teddy Roosevelt was president, there were 45 states in the Union, and women were 14 years away from receiving the right to vote.
Sutcliffe was raised on a farm by August and Maude Liesche, and she married postal worker Bill Sutcliffe at age 17. They were together until Bill's death in the early 1970s. She currently resides at the Brighton Gardens senior living facility in Omaha, where her longtime friend Luella “Lou” Mason is able to visit her at least once a week.
Due to a lockdown triggered by positive COVID-19 tests, Sutcliffe's birthday party will be limited to staff members at Brighton Gardens. According to Mason, that's the way her friend likes it. “She has never wanted any notoriety or attention,” she told the Omaha World-Herald. “I talked with her a couple of weeks ago about this birthday and she told me, ‘We don’t need to talk about that.’”
Sutcliffe has a few years to go before claiming the title of the oldest American to ever live. Sarah Knauss passed away in 1999 after living to be 119 years old. Jeanne Calment of France holds the current world record for oldest person to ever live at 122 at the time of her death.
[h/t Omaha World-Herald]