Council on Aging’s oldest client dies at age of 109

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Buddy and hulda
Buddy LaRosa and Hulda Gehring

In February, Council on Aging’s oldest client, Hulda Gehring, died at the home she shared with her son and daughter-in-law. She was 109 years old.

She had a fall, went to the hospital and returned home quickly, but soon began to decline and did not want to eat or drink anything, said her daughter-in-law, Mary. “It’s been hard,” she said. “You feel just kind of unstrung.”

In 2005, at the age of 101, Hulda left her home in Lodi, California and came to live with Mary and her son, Don. Many of her friends had died and she was losing her support network. But Mary and Don did not want her to move to a retirement community or nursing home.

Hulda never seemed impressed with her advanced age; she didn’t particularly care to talk about it. She preferred to talk about bowling, which she continued to do competitively until her late 80s, and to show off her trophies.

She also had her other loves: staying up late, drinking wine, listening to Lawrence Welk, and spending time with all the grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In 2008, Mary and Don heard about Council on Aging and the Hamilton County Elderly Services Program from a neighbor. As Hulda’s mobility declined and she became more frail, they welcomed the extra help, especially because they had some health problems of their own. Over the years, ESP has provided safety upgrades to the bathroom, medical equipment, personal care for Hulda, and homemaking help.

“COA has just been the greatest for us and I bless the day we heard about you,” Mary said.

In 2012, Hulda, Don and Mary gave a special thank you by agreeing to be photographed for the Elderly Services Program tax levy campaign with the honorary chairman, Buddy LaRosa. Their photo appeared on campaign literature, the Help Our Elderly Web site, and Facebook. Mary also spoke to Hamilton County Commissioners at a public hearing on behalf of the levy.

Hulda was all smiles the day Buddy LaRosa visited. As Mary said, “She never wanted to miss a thing.”