In some countries, people are living to amazing ages. What are they doing to increase their longevity? How can we use these techniques to live longer, too? Wouldn’t you like to hold your great-grandchild, (or even a great, great grandchild), as Kamda of Okinawa is?!
And, other interesting questions to think upon are:
___ How is what promotes our own longer life integrally a part of the health of our planet and our human societies?
___ What do we have to change?
___ Can diabetics “compensate” and recover longevity that is at risk?
This series hopes to enlighten you on those topics.
This time we’ll be learning about the Oldest Married Couples (OMC) in Part 3 and some Amazing Feats of Master Athletes and Scholars in Part 4 of this series.
Although 97% of mammals are polygamous, having more than one partner, why do we humans tend to form pair bonds with only one partner?
It must satisfy some deep, instinctual need.
Even in current America, 91% of men and women form a pair bond and / or marry by the age of 45. Although the divorce rates are high – 55% in USA, 33% in Europe – even the vast majority of divorcees re-marry and are very willing to try it all over again. So is pair bonding or monogamy a basic part of human nature? I think so.
This leads us to the question about who is the longest-lived couple in the world?
There are two ways to calculate the winner(s) — by total years married OR by combined ages of the pair. And, of course, with two people involved, as with twins, the chances of one of the team dying, at this level of longevity, is quite high. So my candidates are the best information I have at hand, as this statistic is usually updated far ahead of the Guiness Book, via newspaper and TV reporting etc.
Magda and Herbert Brown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA were the oldest couple in the world, using Combined Age, as of July 15, 2005 with a combined age of 205 years and 293 days. Herbert was 105 years old at the time, Magda Fritz Brown was 100.
What’s even more amazing about this couple is that Herbert is a survivor of Nazi Germany’s extermination campaign against the Jews and he survived Dachau concentration camp!
He even survived a run-in with the successfully-prosecuted, notorious Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann.
Magda and Herbert’s long marriage began when “We met at a dance, and we fell in love right away,” Magda says. Her face looks transcendent as she recalls that time at finishing school in Vienna more than seven decades ago. They married in Hungary, Magda’s home, and their happy marriage lasted 75 years.
Then. they returned to Austria, Herbert’s family’s homeland.
But when the Nazis came to power in Austria in 1938, and they invaded the Brown’s home, stealing everything of value, and all their money, and then the Nazis sent Herbert to Dachau, which at that time was a slave-labor camp.
Amazingly, at that period of time, the Nazis could be bribed, and so with the help of many Christian friends and a Jewish charity, Herbert was released. This was in addition to the Nazi’s taking literally everything Magda and Herbert owned, including their 2 department stores and all their possessions, in return for his “release”.
When Herbert returned to Vienna, he was required to report daily to a Nazi government office. One day a high-ranking Nazi official was at the office, conducting interrogations. Brown was forced to stand at attention, with his nose pressed to the wall, for two hours. And then he appeared before the official — who turned out to be Adolph Eichmann.
After that encounter, almost penniless, the couple fled to England, just as the courageous Baron Von Trapp did with his family, rather than continue to serve in Austria’s Navy under the Nazis. The von Trapp history has been told in the film “The Sound of Music”, and Austria as described there then was probably much like it was at the time of Magda’s and Herbert’s persecution — gradually coming under the Nazi thumb, as few people had the courage to resist them.
All of this Brown family history, and more, has documented and recounted on videotape for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation by the Brown’s daughter, Trudie Solarz.
Next, Magda and Herbert came to New York and then Philadelphia in 1940; Magda worked as a seamstress, and Herb worked at a factory sewing the shoulder seams on tuxedos.
American life was a major economic and cultural shock, but they were at least glad to be safe from the Nazi threat, said Magda.
Economically, they never recovered what was lost by their persecution, as like many other Holocaust survivors, they have not been justly compensated by Germany, Austria or Switzerland (for those who had their private, “safe” bank accounts, in a neutral country, raided by the Nazis as the Swiss bankers either collaborated or acquiesced).
Magda said, “We were very happy to be here but it was very, very hard” to come to America with nothing.
The highlight of their marriage was the birth of their daughter, and she is their best gift from America, too.
Unfortunately, I have also found another, more local article, that states that Herbert died in December, 2006. But for a while they were the world’s oldest couple. I haven’t found who is now, for sure. The title has turned over at least 3 couples very quickly.
Those who were alive at the same time as the Browns and deserved the title in part or in whole were Percy and Florence Arrowsmith of Hereford, England who were within days of equaling the Browns; Percy has since died. And, after-the-fact, someone finally spoke up on behalf of Andre Debry and Marguerite Pingaud from the small French village of Argenton-sur-Creuse.
Andre and Marguerite had a legitimate claim to both the coveted titles: their combined age is two years greater than the Browns, and they married nine months earlier than the Arrowsmiths. I have not found an article to know whether both are still alive now.
Born on June 15, 1898, Mr. Debry, 107, and Marguerite at 100, born on October 10, 1904, were looking forward to celebrating their 81st wedding anniversary on August 12, 2005.
The most recent information I can find is in connection to the traditional Tibetan blessing ceremony for the Dalai Lama’s 72 nd birthday this month. The Tibetans venerate their elders and consider a blessing from them to be of such value that they have searched the world for a suitable couple to “bless” the Dali Lama. The chosen couple are the longest-married they could find and are a Sikh couple – a 103-year-old retired Army soldier, Thakur Pyara Singh, and his 101-year-old wife Hansa Devi. The Guiness Book staff verify Thakur and Hansa have been married for 83 years! So, they are probably the title holders of longest-married OMC.
Historically, who was the oldest couple by number of years married AND aggregate age!?
That amazing distinction belongs to a Welsh couple Thomas and Elizabeth Morgan, who were married May 4, 1809 in Caerleon, Monmouthshire, United Kingdom. Both born in 1786, they had a combined aggregate age of 209 years and 262 days!
This has still not been topped in nearly 200 years. Other long-lived historical couples, who have not already been described, have included 2 Dutch couples, 1 American couple, 1 Austrian couple, 1 Norwegian couple and 1 Taiwanese couple. Surprisingly, the first Japanese couple mentioned is fairly recent. Yoichi Gomi, 104 years old, and his 103-year-old wife, Kazono from Yokohama, who may now be the title-holders of oldest aggregate-age OMC.
Next time we will meet some amazing Master Athletes and Scholars who can show admirably that age is not a factor that automatically results in disease and being decrepit. These vibrant people put all those stereotypes to rest, forever!
I hope this series is lots of food for thought. Daily actions. Daily choices. That’s what determines our length of days, dear reader.
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