Source: Asbury Park Press
In Bayville, New Jersey, Tallwoods Care Center resident Hilda Brown received a special delivery: 110 roses. One for each year she has been alive — Hilda turned 110 on Jan. 20.
Brown spent much of her life in Fort Lee and then the Bayville section of Berkeley before moving to Tallwoods six years ago. According to immigration documents and family records, she was born Jan. 20, 1911, in Canada. She was a year old when the Titanic sank. She lived through the 1918 “Spanish” flu pandemic, but didn’t come down with it.
In her 30s, Brown moved to Fort Lee, where she worked as a waitress for four decades before retiring to the Bayville section of Berkeley in 1980. She drove a car until age 93, walked until 103 and crocheted until 105.
Hilda’s great-niece Kristen Howe said that in mid-November, the family was notified that someone in close contact with Brown had tested positive for COVID-19. Then the family was notified that Hilda’s Tallwoods roommate had tested positive. Shortly thereafter, Brown herself tested positive and was moved to a quarantine floor, Howe said.
“At that point she was not exhibiting any symptoms,” Kristen said. “Our main concern was that the people caring for her were changing — she’s very familiar with the nurses and caregivers there.”
Later, Brown’s oxygen level dropped.
“They had her on (supplemental) oxygen for about a month,” Kristen said. “We recently were told she does not need the oxygen anymore. They moved her back to her room. For a couple of days she wasn’t eating, so we were concerned about that, but since then she’s perked back up.”
Brown has joined the supercentenarian club — people aged 110 or older. There are about 75 in the United States right now, including fellow Jersey girls Sun Choe of Mount Laurel and Edith Hodes Rose of Maplewood.
Family members have been visiting Brown at Tallwoods through a window, for safety purposes. “She’s been alert and talking, telling her normal stories,” Kristen said.
Added Tallwoods activities director Bonnie Primicile. “She’s not as talkative as she was (but) she was excited to see her family — she did recognize them.”
Family members have been visiting Brown at Tallwoods through a window for safety purposes. “She’s been alert and telling her normal stories,” Kristen said.
On the morning of her birthday, Hilda asked for nephew Robert Tapp, and lit up later when she saw him waving through the window. But perhaps the reak icing on her birthday cake was when Kristen’s daughter, Hilda’s 10-year-old great-great niece Julianne Howe, was allowed to make in-person visit. “They are 100 years apart,” Kristen said.
Brown recently received the second round of the COVID-19 vaccine, presumably closing the page on the latest test of her resilient life.
“We thought if anybody could beat it, she could,” Kristen said. “She is amazing.”
Hilda Brown passed away on June 22, 2021.