16 December 1907Bath, Michigan, United States


1 May 2022Lansing, Michigan, United States



Irene Dunham

Irene Blanche Dunham (née Babcock) was an American supercentenarian who was the oldest known person living in the U.S. state of Michigan at the time of her death.

Jump to:


Irene Dunham was born in Greenbush Township, Clinton County, Michigan, on 16 December 1907. She was the eldest of nine children born to parents Duane and Mabel (Whitney) Babcock, and grew up with her family on a 141-acre farm near the community of Bath, where her father grew rye and corn. In 1918, during the Spanish Flu pandemic, she fell ill with the disease, but recovered. She began attending Bath Consolidated School in seventh grade, having previously walked a mile and a half to the Bath Country School every day.

On 18 May 1927, Dunham, then aged 19, stayed home from school due to a sore throat. On the same day, school board trustee Andrew Kehoe had planted 1000lbs of dynamite in the basement of the building, which exploded, killing 38 schoolchildren and six adults, and injured another 58 other people. Following the explosion, Dunham and her mother drove to the school, finding its north wing reduced to a pile of ruble. While she wasn’t present, some of her siblings had attended school that day, with her brother losing one of his fingers in the explosion.

On 20 May 1927, two days after the bombings, she married Laurits W. Dunham, and would go on to have three children together. The couple were married for around 45 years before Laurits’ death in 1972. She would later remarry to a man with the surname Freeman. In 1977, she attended a class reunion for the students of Bath Consolidated School, where she received her diploma for the first time, as the traditional graduation ceremony didn’t occur after the bombings in 1927. In her later life, she surprised doctors by surviving a bout of colon cancer.

Past her 100th birthday in 2007, Dunham continued to maintain her independence for several years, and was known to still be driving at the age of 106, doing her own grocery shopping and tending to her garden. At the age of 112, she moved into a nursing home, moving out of the home she had lived in for the past 85 years. At this time, she still managed her own finances, and walked with the aid of a walker. By the time of her 113th birthday in 2020, she had outlived all but one of her siblings: her brother, George Babcock, died in 2021 at the age of 102.

Irene Dunham died in Lansing, Michigan, USA on 1 May 2022, at the age of 114 years, 136 days. At the time of her death, she was the third-oldest living person in the United States, and was among the 10 oldest living people in the world.

Advertise With Us

Learn how to advertise


Her age was validated by the Gerontology Research Group on 23 December 2019.

Advertise With Us

Learn how to advertise