20 August 1893Lima, Peru


4 December 2003Hyannis, Massachusetts, United States



Julia Dougherty

Julia Dougherty was a validated Peruvian-American supercentenarian who was believed to be the oldest living resident of the state of Massachusetts at the time of her death.

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Julia Dougherty was born in Lima, Peru on 20 August 1893. Her parents were named Juan Federico “Fred” Bergmann Cavenecia (1862-1933) and Maria Luisa Mendivil Prunier (1864-1948). While both of her parents were Peruvian-born, she had recent European ancestry on both sides of her family: her maternal grandfather’s parents were from France and England, and her paternal grandfather’s father was born in Germany.

In 1899, the young Julia and her family set sail for to the United States, where they would settle in New York City. It was here where her father, Federico, began working as the vice consul from Peru to the United States. He was reportedly a witness to the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, having been standing near him when he was shot.

As a young woman during World War I, she sold war bonds, and found success due to her fluency in both Spanish and English. She loved to sing and act, and performed in many musicals and plays in her youth. In 1922, she married a Swedish-born man named Gustav Ekstrom, and the couple would have three children before her husband’s death as the result of a hunting accident in 1926. In 1942, she married for a second time to Harrison Dougherty. In addition to her three children, she also helped raise her seven grandchildren after the death of her daughter in 1971. Following her second husband’s retirement, the family moved to Massachusetts, where she would spend the rest of her life.

Julia enjoyed swimming, and continued this activity until the age of 100. She was cared for by her two sons, who lived with her in their Cape Cod ranch house for over 50 years. At the age of 104, she underwent cataract surgery, regaining her vision after being deemed legally blind. Throughout her very long life, the first time she was ever seriously ill was when she developed an intestinal disorder at the age of 107, but recovered quickly. In 2003, she celebrated her 110th birthday, making her the first (known) person born in Peru to become a supercentenarian, although this milestone has since been matched in recent years.

Julia Dougherty passed away in Hyannis, Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 4 December 2003, at the age of 110 years, 106 days.

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On her 109th birthday in 2002, Julia was officially recognized by the Massachusetts state Legislature as the oldest woman in the commonwealth. State Rep. Thomas George visited her at her party, presenting her with a gold-embossed certificate and a birthday cake.

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* “Dennis to honor 109-year-old as Bay State’s oldest woman” – Cape Cod Times, 20 August 2002