Fry was born as Bertha VanOsdol on a farm in Vevay, Indiana, on 1 December 1893. Her father, Morton, lived to be 95, and her mother, Lillie, almost reached 90. Aged 16, she survived a poorly performed surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids.
Fry’s family were among the first in Vevay to own a radio, a telephone, and have electricity. She attended Hanover College, where she met her first husband Thomas Gray. They moved back to Fry’s hometown, where she worked as a teacher in the one-room schoolhouse for four years. The couple had two children, Wayne and Barbara. She was widowed in the late 1930s.
During World War II, Fry married her second husband, Harry Fry, whom she knew from grammar school. She lived in Indianapolis until her daughter moved her closer to her following a great snowstorm.
In 1978, Fry moved to a retirement community in Muncie, Indiana, living independently until a few months before her death. At the time of her 110th birthday, she had, along with her two children, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren – she would later become a great-great-grandmother. She still attended exercise classes aged 111.
Fry died on 14 November 2007 following a brief illness at the age of 113 years, 348 days. She was the third-oldest person in the world whose age has been validated, after fellow Indiana resident Edna Parker and Portugal’s Maria de Jesus.