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November 12, 2009
Delma Kollar is 111, or is it 112?
|Delma Kollar watches as her great-great-granddaughter Addy Walker helps her open one of her birthday gifts, which turned out to be a soft pink nightgown.|
|Helen Hoyer photo|
MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- The candles on her cake said 111, but new census evidence indicates that she’s more likely 112.
Originally thought to have been born in 1898, Creswell Health and Rehabilitation Center resident Delma Kollar apparently became a supercentenarian, someone who has attained the age of at least 110, on her Oct, 31, 2008 birthday.
However, when Robert Young, gerontology researcher for the Gerontology Research Group and senior claims investigator for Guinness World Records examined census documents to verify her claim, he discovered that several census records indicate that she was actually born in 1897, making her a year older than previously believed.
The confusion about the year of her birth arose from the fact that she was born in a relatively remote location in Kansas, and the state didn’t begin issuing birth certificates until 1906.
That means that as of her birthday last Saturday, Kollar was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the 13th oldest resident of the United States, and the 28th oldest person in the world.
Born Oct. 31, 1897, in a homesteaders’ log cabin in Lone Elm, Kan., Delma Dorothie Lowman Hoggatt Kollar was the fourth of six children. She grew up on a farm, and rode her horse bareback to school.
After high school, she attended Cottey College in Nevada, Mo., earning a teaching certificate. Her first teaching job was in a two-room schoolhouse in Prairiedell, Kan.
She later earned college degrees in biology and English from Baker University in Baldwin, Kan., and was a schoolteacher for more than 25 years in Kansas and California.
In 1923, she married William “Earl” Hoggatt, whom she met in college during a science project about amoebas. Hoggatt was also a teacher, who later became a school superintendent. He died in 1966 at age 67.
The couple had three children, Jean Cooper, Earlene Duncan and Bill Hoggatt. Wearing orange-and-black striped Halloween stockings, Cooper, a Eugene resident, was present to help her mother celebrate her 112th birthday. Duncan and Hoggatt are deceased.
Kollar later married Harry Kollar, with whom she moved to Walterville, Ore. in 1982. After her second husband’s death in 1986, she lived alone until she was 104 years old.
Kollar has a single surviving child, six grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren, several of whom helped her celebrate this year’s birthday with a cake, flowers, presents and lots of hugs and kisses.
An avid gardener, baker, animal lover, artist and singer, Kollar sang in a church and community quartet with her sister for many years. Skilled in oil and watercolors, she created more than 60 paintings, and family members said that she knew the name of almost every flower, shrub and tree.
Described by family members and friends as possessing devout faith, a great sense of humor and a kind heart toward those in need, Kollar was active for many years in the Walterville Presbyterian Church, the Walterville grange and Lane County Extension Service.
Granddaughter Syd Bergeson chronicled Kollar’s life in a book that was completed just before what was then thought to be her 100th birthday. “I stayed up all night finishing it in time for her birthday,” Bergeson said during this year’s celebration.
Bergeson retold a favorite family story about a pet bulldog Kollar’s family had during her childhood. It seems that every Saturday, Kollar’s father took “Marcus” on the horse drawn buckboard into town, where he would “sell” the dog to a town resident for a barter item such as a pocket knife or a dozen eggs.
And every Sunday morning when the family opened the door to their farmhouse, Marcus would be sitting there waiting for them, having made his way back on foot. Of course, the dog’s purchasers were in on the joke.
Despite her diminished sight and hearing, Kollar is in excellent health and still possesses beautiful skin and hair.
She recognized a former caretaker, Shirley McDaniel, as well as her friend and former neighbor Barbara Jones, of Cottage Grove, who brought her flowers from her garden as well as a replenished supply of Kollar’s favorite treat, M&M candies.
Everybody ought to have a piece of cake,” Kollar said, as family members helped her open a substantial pile of birthday-card-containing envelopes, many from former teaching colleagues as well as family members unable to be present for her latest milestone.
Representatives of all four generations of descendents in attendance included her daughter Jean Cooper; granddaughter Syd Bergeson; great-granddaughter Stacia Walker; two great-great-grandsons, Zach and Sam Walker; and great-great-granddaughter Addy Walker.
Kollar’s other great-granddaughter, Portland resident Cara Cooper, was unable to attend.
Reprinted from the Creswell Chronicle, November 4th, 2009.
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