Omaha woman, the oldest living American, to celebrate quiet 115th birthday

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The oldest living person in America, Omahan Thelma Sutcliffe, will quietly mark her 115th birthday Friday.

And that’s the way she wants it.

Thelma Sutcliffe of Omaha, the oldest living American, will celebrate her 115th birthday on Friday. Sutcliffe, shown Thursday, was born in Benson before it became part of Omaha.

Sutcliffe, who was born Oct. 1, 1906, doesn’t like anyone to make a fuss over her. She will get up, as she always does, at 5 a.m. With the help of staff members at Brighton Gardens near 93rd Street and Western Avenue, she will get into one of her many colorful outfits.

Take a look back at the year 1906

“She pays attention to her appearance,” said a longtime friend, Luella “Lou” Mason of Omaha. “There’s no sitting around in bedclothes. Thelma wants to be dressed every day — very particular about her looks.”

Her birthday party will be attended only by Brighton Gardens staff members because the facility is on lockdown due to positive COVID-19 tests. Barring any further setbacks, Mason will be able to see her friend again on Oct. 9.

Sutcliffe was born in Benson, Nebraska (before it became part of Omaha) to August and Maude (née Adams) Liesche, who owned a farm. At the age of 17, she married Bill Sutcliffe, who worked for the U.S. Postal Service.

Young Thelma

Thelma Sutcliffe, the oldest living person in the United States, was born Oct. 1, 1906. This is a photograph of Thelma as a young woman, possibly her engagement photo, according to her friend Luella “Lou” Mason.  

He loved to golf, and the couple enjoyed traveling, Mason said. Sutcliffe has called her wedding day the happiest day of her life, Mason said, and said her husband was “her best friend.”


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