The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 31, 2008

Waseca man makes the record book

At 80, Bert Holbrook is oldest living person with Down syndrome

WASECA — Though it’s by no means the most coveted of distinctions, it’s remarkable nonetheless.

Guinness World Records has made it official: At 80, Bert Holbrook of Waseca is the world’s oldest person with Down syndrome.

Lifespans of those with Down syndrome typically don’t exceed 55.

Holbrook lives in a group home with several other mentally challenged adults. His nurse, Pat Foley, began supplying documentation to Guinness staff earlier this year.

The previous oldest Down syndrome man on record, Peter Davison of Great Britain, died in 2007 at 68.

The oldest Down syndrome woman, unofficially, is 74-year-old Mary Perry, who lives in Tennessee.

Down syndrome is a set of mental and physical symptoms resulting from a chromosomal disorder. The disorder occurs in one in 800 births, and symptoms range from mild to severe.

Holbrook was diagnosed as mildly retarded when he was younger, then as severely retarded after the onset of dementia in his later years.

Foley said the Guinness certificate arrived the day after Christmas and was shown to Holbrook, who became animated.

“He understood the excitement” but not the specifics, she said.

Foley said Holbrook’s health coincides with that of most 80-year-olds.

“He’s definitely slowing down and tires easily but maintains his same daily routine.”

That includes lunch twice a week at the Waseca Area Senior Citizens Center.

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