Cheshire woman turns 115; world's fifth-oldest person
CHESHIRE -- Bernice "Bennie" Madigan spent her 115th birthday in the hospital on Thursday, but she is expected to be released on Friday -- in time to attend a party in her honor on Saturday afternoon.
The Cheshire resident, who is the fifth-oldest person in the world, will celebrate the big 1-1-5 at her home on Rolling Acres Farm, according to her family.
Madigan has been in the hospital since Monday, but is expected to make a full recovery. After all, this is a woman who in her youth survived the Spanish Flu, according to her niece, Elaine Daniels.
"She had a little fall, but she didn't break anything. She's just kind of sore," Daniels said. "I think they want to keep her [in the hospital] because she's such a celebrity here."
Madigan was born in West Springfield in 1899, but moved to Cheshire as a young girl and graduated from Adams High School. She returned to Massachusetts in 2007 to live on her niece's farm after living in Silver Spring, Md. for nearly 90 years.
She was married for 50 years -- her husband died in 1976.
After reaching as high as No. 4 on the list of the world's oldest people, Madigan recently slipped to No. 5, according to Daniels. Gertrude Weaver, of Little Rock, Ark., was recently certified by the Gerontology Research Group as being 116 years old.
But no matter what her ranking, Madigan reigns supreme at her family's farm.
"She's the queen bee down here," Daniels said. "She's like royalty."
And as she ages, Madigan's fame continues to rise.
National Geographic recently published a series of photos of Madigan on its website, and she continues with work with Boston University researchers who are studying longevity, Daniels said.
Daniels expects more than 100 family and friends to be on hand to celebrate Madigan's 115th birthday.
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