|Birth:||19 January 1904|
Kymbo, Vastergotland, Sweden
|Death:||23 December 2014|
Rockford, Illinois, USA
|Age:||110 years, 338 days|
Conrad Johnson was born as Karl Konrad Jansson in Kymbo, Vastergotland, Sweden, on 19 January 1904. He grew up on a family farm in Kymbo with his parents, Oskar Jansson and Ida (née Gahnstrom) Jansson, and his nine siblings. He was the fourth oldest child. The family was gifted at carpentry and built a big house for themselves to live in.
In 1889, Conrad's father Oskar had emigrated to Chicago, United States. Around seven years later, he married Ida, Conrad's mother (who had also emigrated, from Sweden's largest island Gotland). For climate-related reasons, the couple decided to move back with their then-only child Arthur in the late 1890s. Several of Conrad's siblings ended up moving to United States, including two brothers and one sister. Conrad himself emigrated to United States on 6 March 1923 aboard the ship Drottningholm, which departed from Gothenburg. He was 19 years old at the time and travelled by train to Illinois. He soon anglicized his name to Conrad Johnson. Despite eventually living 80+ years in United States, he never forgot his birth country and returned to Sweden on many occasions.
Initially, he pursued a career in the pastry business. However, he eventually found himself in the field of carpentry, where he slowly but steadily became better and better at mastering his craft. Him being fired from multiple jobs attests to the struggles he had to endure in the beginning. Conrad primarily found success as an entrepreneur running his own renovation company called C. Conrad Building Contractor, but was also as a cabinet builder.
Personal life & marriage
In 1944, he married a woman named Walborg Teresia Lind (1908–1988). She was also a Swedish immigrant. 44 years later, he became widowed when she passed away in 1988. In 1990, while he was an octogenarian, he married for a second time, to Alice. She passed away in 2002. Conrad did not have children of his own.
Since 2006, Conrad was residing at the Peterson Meadows Retirement Community in Illinois. At age 105, it was reported that he was in excellent physical shape, engaging in activities such as bowling, walking and utilizing the treadmill. At the time of his 109th birthday, he said that he solely takes medication for his eyes.
In April 2014, a few months after celebrating his 110th birthday, he suffered a stroke, although there were signs of his health slowly deteriorating already during his birthday. For instance, his mobilitiy had to be facilitated by using a walker.
Conrad Johnson died in Illinois, United States, on 23 December 2014 at the age of 110 years, 338 days. He bequeathed money to the Midway Village Museum in the Rockford area.
Health-wise, Conrad had to contemplate his own mortality at a relatively early age. When he was in his 30s, he feared that he had developed cancer. He visited various doctors for check-up, of which one prescribed one simple advise: Drinking lots of water. Considering that his health vastly improved as a result, it may be speculated that Conrad didn’t have cancer but instead some type of dehydration-related illness.
That longevity genes was existent in the Jansson family is evident by the fact that one of Conrad’s brothers, Goran Jansson, eventually became a centenarian (14 May 1907 – 1 June 2007).
Conrad credited his longevity to God, working hard, maintaining good dietary habits (oatmeal in particular), exercising, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco.
After the death of Dr. Alexander Imich on 8 June 2014, Conrad was touted as the oldest living American man. In addition, he was the oldest living Swedish-born person after the death of fellow United States-resident Esther Ecklund on 12 March 2014. As for ”all-time” records, he may be the second-oldest Swedish-born man in history after Anders Engberg, although his age has yet to be officially verified by an age validation organization.
- Gerontology Research Group
- 1904 Baptismal record
- 1923 Ellis Island passenger list
- Connect Fall 2009, p.3
- Rrstar 27 January 2013
- Rrstar 23 December 2014
- The Tapestry May 2015, p.5
- blog January 19, 2015
- Rrstar 20 August 2015
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Charlie Nelson • Charlie Phillips • Mathew Beard • Joe Thomas • Alphaeus Philemon Cole • Alton Gilbert • James Wiggins • Frederick Frazier • Christian Mortensen • Johnson Parks • Walter Richardson • John Painter • John McMorran • Fred Hale • Earl Brush • Moses Hardy • Thomas Nelson • Antonio Pierro • George Francis • Walter Breuning • Shelby Harris • Salustiano Sanchez • Alexander Imich • Conrad Johnson • Wash Wesley • Felix Simoneaux • Frank Levingston • Clarence Matthews • Richard Overton • Henry Tseng