Delma (Lowman) Kollar was a supercentenarian, and one of the 100 verified oldest people. She is also the current record holder for being the longest lived person from Kansas.
Oregon's oldest woman turns 113 Sunday NWCN Staff, NWCN.com 11:05 a.m. PDT October 30, 2010 CONNECT TWEET LINKEDIN COMMENT EMAIL MORE CRESWELL, Ore. - She has lived in three centuries. She has lived through the administration of 20 U.S. presidents. She has survived a heart attack in her early 70s and outlived both of her husbands, two of her three children and all five of her siblings.
She is a supercentenarian, meaning 110 years or older, one of only 79 verified in the world.
But exactly how old is Creswell resident Delma Kollar?
According to U.S. Census records from 1900 and 1910, she was born on Oct. 31, 1897, which would make her 113 on Sunday. That would also make her the 13th- oldest person in the world and the sixth-oldest in the United States, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which verifies claims for the Guinness Book of World Records.
Until those census records were discovered a couple of years ago by Robert Young of Atlanta, a Georgia State University graduate student and senior claims researcher for the Gerontology Research Group, Kollar's family had always thought she was born on Oct. 31, 1898. That would make her only 112 on Sunday, or just the 28th- oldest known person in the world.
Either way, there is likely no one older living in Oregon today.
That's a safe bet, Young said by telephone from Atlanta. That's a very safe bet.
Birth certificates were not issued in the United States until the early 20th century, although it was common for those born in the 19th century to be issued one later in life. Kollar s only surviving child, Jean Cooper of Cottage Grove, said she has her mother's somewhere and it indicates she was born in 1898.
In recent years, handwritten state and federal census records have been put online and can be accessed at websites such as Ancestry.com. That's where Young found two records saying Kollar, who was born Delma Dorothie Lowman in the tiny eastern Kansas town of Lone Elm, came into the world on Oct. 31, 1897.
The 1900 U.S. Census taken on June 13 of that year in Lone Elm includes the family of Bascom and Mary Jane Lowman and the listing of their four children at the time, with the two youngest being Delma and Nina. But Delma's name seems to be written as Dorsey D. She is listed as age 2 at the time with a birth date of Oct. 31, 1897. Nina is listed as age 1 with a birth date of Feb. 1, 1899.
A 1905 Kansas state census of the Lowman family found by Young lists Delma as being 6, which would indicate her being born in 1898. But the 1910 U.S. Census found at Ancestry.com -- taken on April 23 that year has Delma listed as 12 and Nina as 11.
Kollar's granddaughter, Syd Bergeson of Eugene, said the family which includes Kollar's six grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, 10 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild will celebrate her 113th birthday Sunday at her nursing home, the Creswell Health and Rehabilitation Center.
We're going with 1-1-3, Bergeson said. If there had only been one (census record), I would have leaned more toward, OK, somebody just made a mistake. But there were two, Bergeson said.
However, the 1930 U.S. Census taken in Elkhart, Kan., where Kollar lived at the time with her first husband, Earl Hoggatt, lists Delma Hoggatt as being 31, which again would indicate an 1898 birth.
Bottom line, it's a mystery, Young said. But the fact that Kollar's younger sister, Nina, is listed on the 1900 and 1910 censuses as being born on Feb. 1, 1899, gives strong credence to Kollar being born on Oct. 31, 1897, because they obviously could not have been born three months apart, he said.
The Gerontology Research Group decided to go with 1897 for Kollar's birth because for 1898 to be correct, (her) father would have had to not know the difference between a child aged 1, born February 1899, and a child aged 4 months, born February 1900, Young said. Given that the 1900 census is asked three ways (age, year of birth, month of birth) it is more reliable and is also the closest record to the birth event, he said.
Maybe someone should just ask Kollar herself?
How old will you be, 112? asked Cooper, standing over her mother's bedside Thursday at the nursing home where she has lived since 2004.
Oh, I quit paying attention at 105, said Kollar, who moved to Oregon from California in 1982 with her second husband, Harry Kollar.
Kollar is remarkably lucid for someone her age, but bedridden and extremely hard of hearing. Visitors must yell for her to hear them. Asked Thursday what year she was born, Kollar said 1898. She quickly corrected herself, however, and said 1897.
I never heard her say that until the last couple of years, said Cooper, 86, who believes her mother was born in 1898. Bergeson has kept her grandmother up to date on Young's research.
Thursday, Kollar got a special visit from someone she has never met before. Into her room walked a tall, fit, bespectacled man from Kansas who came bearing gifts.
This is Doug Barth from Baker University, said Bergeson, 59, speaking loudly into her grandmother's ear.
Oh, from Baker? responded Kollar, her eyes brightening a bit. She had been asleep at 11:30 a.m. until Bergeson roused her.
And I'm a Baker graduate, too, Barth said. A few years behind you. It's very nice to meet you.
Baker University is a small college of 960 in Baldwin City, Kan. Kollar attended there from 1920 to 1922, according to school records. It is where she met her husband to be, Hoggatt. The two of them teamed together in a science-class demonstration before being set up on a blind date. Both went on to long careers as schoolteachers in Kansas and California.
Bergeson saw a Baker University newsletter sent to her grandmother in April that mentioned an all-class reunion happening in May. Bergeson decided to write to university president Patricia Long, telling her parts of her grandmother's story, how she met her first husband there and that she was 112 and probably would not be able to make it to the reunion in May.
Long passed the note onto Barth, Baker's director of alumni and corporate relations. Barth was fascinated, but had to laugh at the part about Kollar not being able to make it when I read how old she was, he said.
Barth got in touch with Bergeson, and told her he had this crazy idea to fly to Oregon and meet Kollar on her next birthday, assuming she was still alive.
Every birthday I think this is probably it, Bergeson said. And then here we are again. She's our little family treasure.
Barth flew into Portland on Wednesday and left the state on Friday. He spent time with Kollar on Thursday, presenting her with a gray school blanket marked with its orange-and-blue Wildcat logo, a certificate acknowledging her as the school's oldest alum, framed photos he found in the school archives of Kollar and Earl Hoggatt as students and a photo of all 32 women in Kollar's Phi Mu sorority during the 1920-21 school year.
School records show that Kollar did not graduate until 1947, Barth said. Cooper and Bergeson said that must be wrong, but Barth surmises she must have gone back to school to finish her biology degree after World War II.
Kollar had another surprise visit recently. On Sept. 4, Dr. L. Stephen Coles, a visiting professor at UCLA and co-founder and executive director of the Gerontology Research Group, came to Creswell to draw Kollar's blood for a joint project between UCLA and Stanford University. Coles said he has taken blood from 10 supercentenarians in the hopes of discovering why they have lived so long.
They've inherited the ability to escape from ordinary diseases, Coles said when contacted on his cell phone in Los Angeles. We're going to hopefully learn what the good genes are.
After taking a blood sample from not only Kollar, but Cooper and Bergeson, as well, he took them to Stanford where the white blood cells were used to create a DNA sequence that was then delivered to a company, Complete Genomics in Mountain View, Calif., that has developed and commercialized an innovative DNA sequencing platform it believes will become the preferred solution for complete human genome sequencing and analysis.
In addition to the 79 supercentenarians between the ages of 110 and 114 it has verified around the world, the Gerontology Research Group has 34 more cases pending for verification, Young said.
Sometimes verification is impossible because of a lack of records, he said.
Only three of the 79 verified are men. Women tend to live longer than men. We think it has something to with the female advantage of the X chromosome, Coles said. But we haven't confirmed that.
Delma Kollar would seem to be living proof.
Delma Dorothie Kollar was an American supercentenarian and one of the oldest 100 verified people ever. On her last birthday, she became one of only 88 people to have attained the age of 114. Before recent research, she was thought to have been born in 1898. However, from the data in the census closest to her date of birth, and due to the fact that her younger sister was born in February 1899, this was proved to have been wrong. At the time of her death she was the fourth oldest living person in the world, the recordholder for the oldest person born in Kansas and one of the last four people born in 1897.
Kollar was one of six children; both her parents lived into their 90s, and two of Kollar's aunts lived past 100. After high school, Kollar attended Cottey College, earning a teaching certificate. Her first teaching job was in a two-room schoolhouse in Prairiedell. Later she earned college degrees in biology and English from Baker University and then worked as a schoolteacher in Kansas and California for more than 25 years. In 1923, Kollar married William Hoggatt. They had three children: Jean Cooper, Earlene Duncan, and Bill Hoggatt. William died in 1966.
Kollar later married Harry Kollar and the couple moved to Oregon in 1982. Harry Kollar died in 1986.
Kollar outlived all 5 of her siblings and two of her 3 children. She had 6 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, 11 great-great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-great-grandchild. Norman-1065
The Eugene Register-Guard Lane County, Oregon Friday, January 27, 2012
A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at McKenzie Valley Presbyterian Church in Walterville for Delma Dorothie Lowman Hoggatt Kollar of Eugene, who died Jan. 24 of age-related causes. She was 114.
She was born Oct. 31, 1897, in Lone Elm, Kan. Her parents were Bascom Bishop and Mary Jane Smith Lowman. She married William "Earl" Hoggatt on Aug. 25, 1923, in Iola, Kan. He died in 1966. She married Harry Kollar in October 1969, in Palmdale, Calif. He died in 1986.
She attended Cottey College in Nevada, Mo., for one year and left to teach in Prairiedell, Kan., in a one-room schoolhouse. After a year, she went to Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., where she graduated with degrees in biology and English. She worked as a schoolteacher for more than 25 years in elementary, middle and high school.
Survivors include a daughter, Jean Cooper of Eugene; six grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; 11 great-great-grandchildren; and one great-great-great-grandchild.
A daughter, Earlene Duncan, and a son, Bill Hoggatt, died previously.
Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery in Leaburg.
Arrangements by Smith-Lund-Mills Funeral Chapel in Cottage Grove.
Remembrances may be sent to Cottage Grove Humane Society, Walterville Grange or McKenzie Valley Presbyterian Church. 
1910 Federal Census (Lone Elm, Anderson, Kansas, United States):
1920 Federal Census (Iola Ward 3, Allen, Kansas, United States):
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