Oldest Belgians pass away one day apart

Summary

Belgium’s oldest woman and man died recently at 111 and 108. Belgium’s newest elder is Ghent resident Marietta Joanna Bouverne

Secrets to longevity

Both the oldest man and oldest woman in Belgium died recently. Elisabeth De Proost passed away 11 days shy of her 112th birthday. De Proost (pictured) lived in a nursing home in Anderlecht, the municipality in Brussels where she was also born.

Maurits Stael lived to 108 and died in an assisted living centre in Beernem, West Flanders, one day before De Proost. Stael fought in the Second World War. He often said that it was his dream to become the oldest man in Belgium and that he got there with “a glass of horse milk every day”.

The oldest person in Belgium is now Marietta Joanna Bouverne. She was born in Ghent on Christmas Day in 1908, making her 111 years old. She lives in an assisted-living facility in Ghent.

A reporter for Het Nieuwsblad recently visited Bouverne for lunch, which she took in her room instead of the communal dining area “because everyone there complains so much,” she said. Bouverne worked during a time when many women didn’t, commuting from Ghent to Ukkel in Brussels for her job as secretary to a notary.

Her husband passed away some 50 years ago. The couple had no children. “I’m not sure why,” she told Het Nieuwsblad. “Not interested, I guess?” As for her health, she said it was “so-so” but that everything in her head “works perfectly”.

The oldest man in Belgium, meanwhile, is Sylvain Vallée of Mesnil-Saint-Blaise in Namur province. He turned 107 last year.

Photo courtesy Supercentenarios/Twitter