105 Year Old Woman Born on Maui Beats COVID-19 in New Jersey
“Strong island roots and healthy lifestyle… paid off 100 fold,” for a woman who tested positive for COVID-19 on the same day that she turned 105 years old, family said.
Lucia DeClerck received the “horrible birthday gift” on Jan. 25, 2021, but “sailed through a two week quarantine like a champ with barely any symptoms,” said her granddaughter Shawn Laws O’Neil in an email communication to Maui Now.
This is the second pandemic that DeClerck has lived through, according to family members who say that in addition to surviving the COVID-19 infection earlier this year, the centenarian lived through the Spanish Flu when she was only two years old living in Wailuku.
DeClerck was born on Maui on Jan. 25, 1916 to parents who had immigrated to Hawaiʻi from Spain and Belize. She was born and raised in the islands, attending primary school on Maui before moving to Oʻahu where she attended secondary school.
As an adult, DeClerck married and raised three sons in Los Angeles while she and her former husband operated a local corner store, which was a staple in the community for four decades.
According to family members, DeClerck then returned to Honolulu in 1963, living there for another 31 years, working as a Home Care Aide for the State and personal clients, before moving to New Jersey in 1994 to live closer to her eldest son and his family.
DeClerck’s mother, Flora Vargas Pereira, immigrated from Belize to Kauaʻi with her parents and siblings in 1911 where Pereira’s father became the lead surveyor for roadways in Waimea. According to family members, Pereira married Antonio Vidal Lopez, a Castalian immigrant from Spain, and gave birth to DeClerck on Maui.
“DeClerck is no stranger to hard times, having survived both World Wars, the Civil Rights Movement, three husbands, heart failure, a lung infection,” and now COVID-19, family said.
“A devout Catholic, she attributed her survival from COVID-19 to lots of prayer, a strong family lineage,” as well as “many years of a healthy lifestyle from an early age living in Hawai’i,” according to Laws O’Neil.
According to family members, DeClerck has been known to drink a “homemade aloe juice concoction” and remained an active senior, walking daily until she was 101 years old.
“Due to COVID-19, her family has had to postpone celebrating this momentous birthday until after the pandemic is over,” said Laws O’Neil.
Until then, she has received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine “and will continue her daily prayers for everyone.”
In addition to her three sons, DeClerck is the “proud tutu” of six grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and 11 great-great grandchildren.
One of her grandchildren, Deanna Marshall, is the former Upward Bound Math and Science Program Coordinator at University of Hawai’i at Hilo. At the encouragement of DeClerck, Marshall began to extensively explore her family’s deep island roots and now lives on the mainland where she facilitates workshops that teach others how to research their own family histories.