Meet the Super Centenarians Who Beat COVID-19

Bill Lapschies

Bill Lapschies beat COVID-19 in time to celebrate his 104th birthday. Photo: Courtesy of Jamie Lynn Yutzie

Sadly, the COVID-19 toll includes one of Canada’s oldest people, Foon Hay Lum, who died at the age of 111. However, some of the world’s oldest people are beating COVID-19. Super centenarians, indeed!

Bill Lapschies, 104


The Oregon veteran lived through the Spanish flu, the Great Depression and service in the Second World War. He recovered from the coronavirus in time for his 104th birthday.

Cornelia Ras, 107


The Dutch have an expression for amazement – “Now my wooden shoe is breaking” – which is how many of us felt upon hearing that the Amsterdam native is likely the world’s oldest coronavirus survivor.

Connie Titchen, 106


NHS Trust representatives suggested she could be Britain’s oldest coronavirus survivor but, for her part, Titchen said in a statement that she feels “very lucky” and simply “can’t wait to see my family.”

Ada Zanusso, 104


When asked by Sky News how she managed to rally and beat the coronavirus, the Northern Italian woman’s answer was simple – “courage and strength [and] faith.”

Kay Murphy, 100


Kay Murphy
Photo: Courtesy of Jen Warrington


Murphy’s family calls her “Super Nanny,” and it’s easy to see why. The Nova Scotia centenarian beat COVID-19 around a month after turning 100. Says her granddaughter Jen Warrington, “She once again came out on top of what life has thrown her way.”

Zhang Guangfen, 103


Hailing from the epicentre of the pandemic – Wuhan, China – this survivor spent only six days in hospital before she was deemed healthy and sent home.

Italica Grondona, 102


Grondona returned to her home in Genoa, Italy, after recovering from coronavirus and mild heart failure. Her doctor told CNN that the medical team dubbed her “Highlander” –the immortal.”

Micaela Polonio, 100


In an online video, Polonio received an ovation from her Barcelona neighbours after beating the coronavirus, reportedly declaring triumphantly, “I killed that little bug.”

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2020 issue with the headline, “This Way Up Special,” p. 26.


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