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Maude Fodrea Wangberg has seen things that most of us only know about from history class.
She remembers Easter Sunday tornadoes tearing through Omaha in 1913 but missing her house.
She was downtown when William Brown was lynched in 1919, when she was just a teen.
At 107, Wangberg is the oldest known living resident of Douglas County, according to county officials. She was honored Tuesday by the County Board as part of its 100-year celebration of the Douglas County Courthouse.
Another centenarian, Kay Winklebauer, 100, was also recognized.
For Wangberg, the mob lynching of Brown, a black man who was jailed after being accused of assaulting a white woman, remains a vivid memory.
She was in the crowd that day but didn't see the hanging of Brown, who many believe was innocent. Wangberg, then 14, and a friend had taken the streetcar downtown and just stood on the street.
“It was real scary. There wasn't anything nice about it,” Wangberg said.
Born in Grand Island on May 16, 1905, Wangberg moved with her family to Omaha as an infant. She graduated from Mount St. Mary High School and attended Duchesne College before joining the Orpheum circuit tour as a vaudeville dancer in 1925. Dancing took her across the country and to Canada.
After marrying John Wangberg in 1933, she didn't work outside the home. She focused on raising her adopted daughter, Lorraine Boyd.
Wangberg moved with her husband to Kansas City and cities in the South. But after her husband retired, they returned to Omaha.
“I just like Omaha, I don't have any one particular thing, but it's always been friendly to me,” Wangberg said.
Her daughter and her husband, Thom Corritore, also live in Omaha.
“I'm glad to have my daughter here and Thom, they help me a lot, but I prefer to live by myself,” Wangberg said.
She lived in an apartment alone until age 100, then she moved to New Cassel Retirement Center.
Wangberg hasn't had major health problems. She still has all of her teeth. but her hearing isn't great.
She uses a walker to get around, but has only been using it since she moved to the retirement center.
Boyd has a picture of her mother dancing on her 90th birthday.
“I liked dancing best of all. Dancing was my love,” Wangberg said.
Her interests include watching baseball and football on television. Wangberg, a devout Catholic, tries to attend Mass every day.
Wangberg said she wasn't much for politics, though she was fond of Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. Boyd said her mother has always voted.
Wangberg voluntarily gave up driving when she returned to Omaha in her late 80s, said Boyd, who is an editor at The Daily Record.
“And we all breathed a sigh of relief because her nickname was leadfoot, and we didn't mean dancing, we meant driving,” Lorraine said.
Wangberg doesn't have any special secret to her longevity.
However, she rarely overeats and got a lot of exercise from dancing over the years.
“It fools me just as well as everybody else,” she said.
Wangberg, a petite 5-foot-3 with dyed blond hair, also has genetics on her side.
One sister, Frances, lived to 102, and her mother, Blanche, lived to 103.
As for Tuesday's recognition, Wangberg said it was “quite a treat.” But with 107 years of life experience, Wangberg would rather talk about her daughter. The walls of her room are filled with her pictures.
“Proud? Yes. Very proud,” she said of her daughter.
In 1905 ...
» Maude Fodrea Wangberg was born on May 16.
» Theodore Roosevelt was president.
» A loaf of bread cost 4 cents.
» A gallon of milk cost 29 cents.
» A new car cost $500.
» A house cost $4,000.
» A stamp cost 2 cents.
» Average annual income was $862.
» There were 501 people in Nebraska who were 100 or older, according to the 2010 Census. Of those 501, 70 were men.
» In Douglas County, there were 99 people 100 or older.
» The oldest living Nebraskan is believed to be Mable Steiner Ragan of Albion, who is 111.
» The 2010 Census found 846 centenarians in Iowa.
» Dina Manfredini of the Des Moines suburb of Johnston, at age 115, is the second-oldest living person in the world.
» The Gerontology Research Group recognizes Besse Cooper, 116, of Monroe, Ga., as the world's oldest living person.
— World-Herald staff writers Christine Scalora, Andrew Nelson and Paul Goodsell Sources: E.A. Kral, who keeps records on Nebraska's oldest citizens; Pam Rees, reference librarian at Iowa Library Services; Gerontology Research Group; U.S. Census