'Holy smokes': Pueblo West resident Annabelle Holblinger celebrates 113th birthday

·3 min read

Annabelle Holblinger has lived through the Spanish flu, COVID-19, two world wars, the Great Depression, dust bowls, 9/11, and massive social, political and technological change in the 113 years since she was born in Callicoon, New York, on March 16, 1909.

Now a resident of Pueblo West, where she's lived with her daughter Anne Beers for the past 20 years, Holblinger is the oldest person in Colorado and the 9th oldest in the U.S., Beers and her sister Jean Peterman said as they made a birthday cake to celebrate their mother's 113th birthday on Wednesday.

"I was thinking yesterday, she was born before World War I started and, I was thinking yesterday, she may die when World War III starts, which we hope doesn’t happen," Peterman told The Chieftain.

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How much Holblinger remembers of her long life depends on the day, said Peterman, who flew out from East Hampton, Conn., to mark the day with her mother and sister.

"Some days, she’s very with it; other days, she's not," she said.

Holblinger reacted with surprise, and a heartfelt "Holy smokes" when Peterman reminded her that it was her birthday on Wednesday, and was turning 113.

Colorado's oldest living person, Annabelle Holblinger, celebrates her 113th birthday on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
Colorado's oldest living person, Annabelle Holblinger, celebrates her 113th birthday on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.

The supercentenarian — which is what people are called once they reach 110 — is the last of her six siblings who is still alive, but her daughters tell her otherwise, "because she can’t tolerate that everyone’s gone except for her," said Beers, 83.

She grew up on a farm in Callicoon, where her father used horses, "no tractors, nothing like that," to work the land, said Beers.

"She used to tell us stories — the first time she saw an airplane, she thought it was a weapon and she ran and hid. When she saw a zeppelin, she thought, 'Well, that's surely going to kill us,'" Beers said.

As an adult, she worked with her husband Anton Holblinger in his electrical business in New York City. She became so good at repairing radios and wiring lights that, when she applied for a job in a department store in her 70s, they assigned her to the appliances section, Beers said.

But today, she has no interest in using a cell phone or other electronic devices, such as television or a personal computer.

She worked until she was in her 80s.

Anton and Annabelle Holblinger
Anton and Annabelle Holblinger

When she turned 110, she was the 64th oldest person in the U.S., said Peterman, who's nearly 79. Today, she's the ninth-oldest person in the country, and only 16 months separate her and the other supercentenarians.

Holbringer moved in with Beers about 20 years ago, when her daughter bought a parcel of land in Pueblo West with a view of the mountains from the backyard.

Peterman said she believes her mother is still alive because she lives with her sister.

"Also, she must have a good constitution. She's fully vaccinated against COVID and never had a bad reaction to any of the shots," she said.

"And she believes in everything in moderation," Peterman added. "Eat, drink, everything in moderation — I've heard that out of her mouth 1,000 times."

Annabelle Holblinger
Annabelle Holblinger

Contact Justin at Jreutterma@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @jayreutter1. Karin Zeitvogel can be reached at kzeitvogel@chieftain.com.

This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Pueblo West resident Annabelle Holblinger celebrates 113th birthday