Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper

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Henny van Andel-Schipper
Van andel 113 large.jpg
Van Andel-Schipper on her 113th birthday
Hendrikje Schipper

(1890-06-29)29 June 1890
Smilde, Netherlands
Died30 August 2005(2005-08-30) (aged 115)
Hoogeveen, Netherlands
Known forOldest Dutch person ever
Dick van Andel (m. 1939–1959)

Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper ([ˈɦɛndrɪkjə vɑn ˈɑndəl ˈsxɪpər]; 29 June 1890 – 30 August 2005) was the oldest person ever from the Netherlands, breaking the previous record of Catharina van Dam on 26 September 2003, and from 29 May 2004 was thought to be the oldest verified person in the world. She became the oldest living person in the Netherlands on 16 February 2001, at the age of 110 years and 232 days.


Van Andel-Schipper was born as Hendrikje Schipper in Smilde, a small village in Drenthe. She was born prematurely and there were doubts that she would survive. However, thanks to the continuous care of her grandmother during her first four weeks, she recovered. At the age of five on her first day of school, she was sick again and was removed from the school on advice of a local doctor. Her father, headmaster at the local school, taught her to read and write.

She had a love of theatre from a young age, but after her mother objected she decided not to pursue a career in acting and became a needlework teacher instead. At the age of 46, she met her future husband Dick van Andel, who worked in Amsterdam. She left her parents' home at the age of 47 and married Van Andel, a divorced tax inspector, in 1939, taking the hyphenated name of Van Andel-Schipper—which is customary in the Netherlands.

During the Second World War, she and her husband moved to Hoogeveen, where she had to sell jewellery to help pay for food during the German occupation. Her husband died from cancer in 1959. She underwent a mastectomy in 1990 after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 100. She continued to live on her own before moving into a retirement home at the age of 105.

She became the oldest recognized woman in Europe on the death of Maria Teresa Fumarola Ligorio in May 2003, and the oldest recognized person in Europe on the death of Joan Riudavets in March 2004. The death of Charlotte Benkner in early May 2004 left her second-oldest recognized in the world behind Ramona Trinidad Iglesias-Jordan, whose death later that month left her apparently the world's oldest at 113 years and 335 days old. María Esther de Capovilla from Ecuador was older, but her claim had not yet been verified.

For her 115th birthday in 2005, she received a visit from the daughter-in-law of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and a delegation from the Ajax football club. The last time the Ajax team visited her she complained that the other residents of her nursing home were "hicks who don't understand football". She had been a fan of the football club Ajax Amsterdam since she attended a match more than 80 years earlier.[1]


She died peacefully in her sleep on 30 August 2005, two months after her 115th birthday. She had remained mentally alert up until her death, but suffered from increasing frailty. Several days prior to her death she told the director of her nursing home, Johan Beijering, that "It's been nice, but the man upstairs says it's time to go". She agreed to leave her body to science when she was 82. An autopsy at the University of Groningen revealed that she died of undetected gastric cancer, the tumor in her stomach being the size of a small fist.[2] It was malignant and would likely have killed a far younger person. Following her death, Elizabeth Bolden became the world's oldest living person.


Van Andel-Schipper had stated that the secret to her longevity was a serving of herring every day and drinking orange juice. She later jokingly added "breathing."[This quote needs a citation] On another occasion, she gave the following advice: "Don't smoke and don't drink too much alcohol. Just a small advocaat with cream on Sundays and holidays. And you must remain active."[1]

On 9 December 2005, Guinness World Records recognized the claim of then 116-year-old María Capovilla of Ecuador to be the world's oldest person, supplanting Van Andel-Schipper from the revised title, she became thought to become the world's oldest living person on 29 May 2004, upon the death of Ramona Trinidad Iglesias-Jordan, she would have become the world's oldest living person at the age of 113 years and 335 days.[3]

In June 2008, Gert Holstege, a professor at the University of Groningen, said following a post-mortem analysis of Van Andel-Schipper's brain that there was little indication of the kinds of problems in the brain, some related to Alzheimer's disease, that are normally found in individuals who survive to extreme ages. According to Holstege, hers was the first known brain of such an advanced age "that did not have these problems".[4]

The complete genome of Van Andel-Schipper has been analysed by the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, who are researching longevity genes.[5] Her autopsy showed no traces of dementia, which some scientists had considered an inevitable part of aging.[1]

A study published in Genome Research suggests the key to Van Andel-Schipper's longevity may lie in her stem cells, which fight off infection.[6] Her system was superior for repairing or getting rid of cells with dangerous mutations.[1] The author of the study suggested personality may also have something to do with longevity as well: People who live past 100 tend to have forgiveness as a common character trait. They tend to focus on something positive when something bad happens.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Blood from world's oldest woman offers longevity clues". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  2. ^ "News – Expatica the Netherlands". www.expatica.com.
  3. ^ "Table C – World's Oldest Person (WOP) Titleholders Since 1955". grg.org. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Scientists say 115-year-old's brain was functioning perfectly when she died", International Herald Tribune, 13 June 2008.
  5. ^ Helen Briggs: "DNA sequenced of woman who lived to 115", BBC News, 14 October 2011.
  6. ^ Holstege et al., pp. 733–742.

Further reading[edit]

  • Holstege, H.; et al. (2014). "Somatic mutations found in the healthy blood compartment of a 115-yr-old woman demonstrate oligoclonal hematopoiesis". Genome Research. 24 (5): 733–742. doi:10.1101/gr.162131.113.

External links[edit]