105-year-old who survived Spanish flu and outlived 3 husbands beats COVID-19

Lucia DeClerck has been getting a lot of attention lately. She celebrated her 105th birthday on January 25 – the same day she was diagnosed with COVID-19, CBS Philly reports.

Staff members at Mystic Meadows Rehab and Nursing Center in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey told the station DeClerck was pretty much asymptomatic, but was in the facility’s COVID-19 unit for 14 days.

Now, she can call herself a COVID-19 survivor – the oldest one at the nursing home, according to The New York Times, which also spoke to DeClerck.

That means the centenarian has survived two pandemics. She was just two years old, living in Hawaii, when the Spanish flu began, The New York Times reports. DeClerck has also survived two world wars, and has lived through the deaths of three husbands and the death of one of her three sons. 

DeClerck’s daughter-in-law told CBS Philly she’s a compassionate person. “She’s a very gentle person,” Lillie Jean Laws said.

“She’s just been open with everything in life and I think that has really helped her because she hasn’t hesitated to do whatever she’s wanted to do,” DeClerck’s son, Henry Laws III, told the station. 

DeClerck’s resilience caught the eye of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who personally called her, staff at Mystic Meadows told CBS Philly. “He was very congenial. He wanted to see how she was feeling, and he was so happy to see that she recovered well,” the staff member said. 

When asked about her secret to longevity, DeClerck said: “Pray, pray, pray. And don’t eat junk food.” But she told the Times there may be another reason she survived COVID-19 – the nine gin-soaked golden raisins she eats every morning. 

Now, her family is taking up the unique regimen DeClerck swears by. “Now all of us are rushing out and getting Mason jars and yellow raisins and trying to catch up,” her 53-year-old granddaughter, Shawn Laws O’Neil, said. 

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