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BIOGRAPHY

Wilhelmina Kott was born in Peru, Illinois, on 7 March 1880. She was the 15th of 16 children born to German-born parents George (a veteran of the American Civil War) and Sophia Geringer, who moved their family to Chicago, Illinois in 1881, settling in the Bridgeport neighborhood. In an interview in her later years, she recalled how her family owned mules, and that she and her brother would ride them down the street. As a young adult, she worked as a bookkeeper.

In 1899, she married Charles Kott, who worked as a furniture company manager. The couple would remain together for 67 years, until Charles’ death in 1966 at the age of 89. She was an active member of her local church, and enjoyed making quilts.

Even at the age of 114, she still lived alone in her home in South Side Chicago. She had lived on her own since the death of her daughter in the late 1980s. She would, however, receive daily visits from her grandson, William Konkel, who would help her get up in the morning, dress her, and cook her breakfast. Her favorite dinner was Chinese food, although she would also cook frozen meals in her toaster oven. Even as a supercentenarian, she still washed her own dishes. She remained very talkative, despite her poor hearing, and retained a clear memory of her early years. At the age of 112, she voted by absentee ballot in the 1992 United States presidential election, and maintained a keen interest in current-world events.

Wilhelmina Kott died in a Chicago hospital on 6 September 1994, at the age of 114 years, 183 days.

RECOGNITION

She was recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest living person in the United States in their 1995 edition.

ATTRIBUTION

* The Lutheran, July 1992

* Chicago Tribune, 9 Sep 1994

GALLERY

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