Death has come after more than 110 years to a woman who was on her way to being verified as the state’s current oldest living person.
Services were held Thursday for Hermina Wahlin, who lived in the west-central community of Evansville for much of her life and died there last week.
At the time of Wahlin’s death, her age was awaiting verification from the most authoritative organization that tracks the world’s oldest people.
“Hermina’s case looks good” for the claim of being the oldest Minnesotan at the time of her death, Robert D. Young, director of the U.S.-based Gerontology Research Group’s research and database division, said Wednesday night.
Wahlin was on the “pending cases list,” Young said. “This means that her claim was probably true, based on census and other documents, but the case had not been processed yet.”
Wahlin’s daughter Shirley Hart said Wednesday that her mother’s “memory was pretty good until the last week. She just slipped away.”
The Minnesota record for the oldest resident belongs to Catherine Hagel, who died in 2008 at age 114 years, 8 days. She was the third-oldest person in the world at the time of her death.
The oldest person born in Minnesota was Walter Breuning, at 114 years, 205 days. Breuning moved to Montana in 1918 and died there in 2011. He was the world’s oldest man at the time of his death.
Wahlin, who died June 18 at the Evansville Care Center, was born Nov. 26, 1904, about 2 miles outside of Evansville. She attended high school in Bemidji and then moved to Minneapolis to work in a beauty shop.
She and David Wahlin were married Aug. 26, 1926, at her parents’ home. They returned to the Evansville area from Minneapolis to farm and then traveled for five years as David worked for an oil pipeline company. After they returned to Evansville, they owned and operated Wahlin’s Grocery for several years.
They moved to Las Vegas for 11 years, and David managed apartment buildings. Retirement brought them back to Evansville, where Hermina was a receptionist for funeral homes in the community. David Wahlin died in 1998 at age 95. They were married for 71 years.
“Hermina was born in President Theodore Roosevelt’s term, the era of horses and buggies, threshing machines and no running water in the homes,” her funeral home obituary read. “She appreciated electricity. This was one of the greatest changes in her lifetime; Hermina had stated, ‘With electricity we had lights. Before that we had to use kerosene lamps to light the house.’ ”
Along with daughter Shirley Hart, Hermina Wahlin also is survived by another daughter, DeeLores Wahlin of Evansville.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482