CHESTERFIELD – Rudi Heider was 5 years old when the Spanish flu hit the whole world. He was 16 when the stock market fell triggering the Great Depression, and he was 36 when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.
On Wednesday, Heider celebrated his 107th birthday with a celebration of his two birthdays and the day he fulfilled all the recovery benchmarks from COVID-19. He marked the day at the Friendship Village Nursing Center in Chesterfield with his favorite dessert: meringue lemon pie.
“She has a good big piece,” said Michelle Cowsert, director of nursing services. “That ruined his dinner.”
The oldest resident of the nursing home – and considered the oldest survivor of COVID-19 in the United States – has balloons, cards and birthday banners. Celebrations with those outside of Friendship Village were detained during the coronavirus pandemic, but Heider could visit through the window with family and chat on the phone with a granddaughter in Seattle.
During his illness, Heider did not think he would survive, said the nursing home, but the man who recovered from a stroke at age 100 and learned to dance ballroom at age 104 made it through.
Heider was treated in a special care center set up in nursing homes for COVID-19 patients. Aside from his pie, Heider said he was most excited to go back to sleep in his own bed.
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