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BIOGRAPHY

Iris Westman was born in Aneta, North Dakota, USA on 28 August 1905 to Nicholas Westman and Mathilda Erickson. She had three brothers and was the only daughter in her family to survive to adulthood, as her two sisters died as children. Westman recalls helping her mother knit for the troops during the First World War.

Westman graduated from Aneta High School in 1923 and then graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1928. She was an English teacher in both Aneta and Hillsboro, North Dakota, before moving to Minnesota. In the 1940s, she spent two summers at the University of Minnesota to earn a Master of Library Sciences degree. She became a librarian in Worthington, Minnesota, where she also sang in the First Lutheran Church choir.

Westman never married or had children. She retired from being a librarian in 1972 and returned to North Dakota in 1990. At the age of 106, she suffered a bad fall and underwent hip replacement surgery. She subsequently moved into a nursing home in Northwood, North Dakota, about 25 miles from the farm she grew up on. As of 2018, she still owned and rented out some of the farmland.

At the time of her 113th birthday in 2018, Westman was still able to get around with the help of a walker and was reportedly in good health. In 2020, Westman’s 115th birthday was celebrated with a drive-by parade outside her nursing home; visitors were forced to keep at a distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Westman died in Northwood, North Dakota, USA on 3 January 2021 at the age of 115 years, 128 days.

RECOGNITION

It is not clear when Westman became the oldest living person in North Dakota, but it is believed to have been before she turned 110. On 29 October 2016, Westman officially became the oldest person ever recorded from North Dakota after surpassing the previous record of 111 years, 61 days set by Mary Schumacher.

Her age was validated by the Gerontology Research Group on 1 September 2017.

At the time of her death, Westman was the second-oldest living person in the United States, behind Hester Ford, and the seventh-oldest living person in the world, behind Kane Tanaka, Lucile Randon, Francisca Celsa dos Santos, Jeanne Bot, Shigeyo Nakachi, and Hester Ford (whose age has been validated by the GRG).

ATTRIBUTION

GALLERY

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