Elsie Rich, one of world’s oldest, dies at 110


Elsie Rich, one of the world’s oldest Jews, died Dec. 29, 2011, at a nursing home in northern California, four months after the Holocaust-era refugee from Vienna celebrated turning 110.

"I was with her. She went peacefully," said her 92-year-old friend Evie Abramowitz. "She just wore out. She was four months into 110. How much better could you go?"


L. Stephen Coles, director of the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group at UCLA, which tracks and studies people 110 years old and older verified that Rich was qualified to be listed among the planet’s supercentenarians, the fourth-oldest-known person in California, and the 23rd oldest American.

Until she passed 100, Rich lived on her own in an apartment in Santa Rosa, Calif., and “outpaced people decades younger” in exercise classes, the Associated Press reported. Her friend, Edith Newman, told J Weekly last summer that Rich “would lead the exercise class when her teacher was away. And this was not that long ago! Has anyone told you she would do the splits when she was 90?”

She was born Elsa Schiffman in Vienna and married businessman Henry Reich in 1932. They fled Austria for the US in 1938, where she changed her name from Elsa Reich to Elsie Rich. They intended to move to Los Angeles in 1942 but visited a friend in Santa Rosa, a small city in northern California, and settled there on a chicken ranch where she lived until retirement.

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org.

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