On Oct. 1, Dorothy Hoffner became the oldest skydiver in history at age 104 when she tandem-jumped out of a plane in Illinois. Just over a week later, she died.

Joe Conant, her friend and nurse at the senior center where she lived, said she was found dead Monday morning, having died in her sleep sometime during the night. Conant said Hoffner “was indefatigable. She just kept going,” The Associated Press reported Tuesday. “She was not someone who would take naps in the afternoon, or not show up for any function, dinner or anything else. She was always there, fully present. She kept going, always,” said Conant.

104-year-old Chicago woman becomes oldest skydiver in the world

Her first jump

The jump on Oct. 1 was not her first jump — that happened in 2019, when she was 100. She was having dinner with Conant, who told her he was interested in skydiving.

“That sounds really interesting,” she told him, reported The New York Times. Later that year, they both jumped.

After her most recent jump, she seemed bewildered that people were that interested. Still, she was willing to talk to reporters. “Floating down, it’s so smooth,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “Nice, peaceful,” she said on a local TV station, ABC 7. The biggest thing on her mind, though, was “What are we having for dinner?”

Hoffner was born in 1918, just after the end of World War I, and as the 1918 pandemic was sweeping the globe. She lived through a second pandemic with COVID-19. She grew up poor, reports The New York Times, couldn’t afford college, and went to work for Illinois Bell Telephone, later part of AT&T. She made 25 cents an hour when she started her job as a telephone operator in 1938, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. At 104, she had been retired for as many years as she had worked.

Her death came as a shock to Conant and others. She had an interview scheduled with a German magazine that day, reports the Chicago Sun-Times, and was making plans to take a hot air balloon ride. “I’ve never been in one of those,” she said.

“She thought that her life was really uninteresting,” Conant said to the Sun-Times. “And I found her to be fascinating.”

In case you’re wondering, for dinner on Oct. 1, Hoffner ate a chicken salad special at the Tangled Roots brewery in Ottawa, Illinois.

A memorial service will be held in early November.

Holly Richardson is the editor of Utah Policy.