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Parachute Journalism

Days after setting a world record for being the oldest person to skydive, a Chicago woman died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 104.

As the Chicago Tribune reports, Dorothy Hoffner was known to friends and family as a lively prankster right up until the end. The day after making headlines for her record-breaking skydive, she had friends and family visit her at her retirement community home and, instead of telling them about her feat, simply held up a copy of the newspaper with her photo on the cover.

"Dorothy, you never told us you went skydiving!" one family member said, according to her longtime friend Joe Conant.

"Well, you never asked!" Hoffner replied.

It was the second time the centenarian had skydived — the first, as The Guardian reported, was back when she was only 100 — and she seemed to love it.

"It was wonderful up there," she said after her second time jumping from an airplane. "The whole thing was delightful, wonderful, couldn’t have been better."

"She wasn’t doing it because of the world record," the late legend's friend, a 62-year-old whom she would sometimes call her grandchild, said. "She was doing it because she wanted to go skydiving."

Just a Number

A self-described "unclaimed treasure," Hoffner never actually had any children or grandchildren of her own — and she reportedly credited her long life, in part, to never getting married or having kids.

Interestingly, the woman's passing came shortly after a new centenarian longevity study was published out of Sweden, where blood tests revealed that many people who lived to the age of 100 or more shared biomarkers in their samples. Specifically, as the researchers wrote in The Conversation, the blood samples showed that people who lived to their 100th birthdays had lower levels of glucose, the kidney function and iron-binding waste byproduct creatinine, and the digestive byproduct uric acid.

For Hoffner, as well as others who comprise the swiftly-growing centenarian demographic, we'll probably never truly know the "secret" to long life — but in an interview with Newsweek given ahead of her record-breaking skydiving trip, she did provide a hint.

"I'm ashamed to admit, it's probably because I am lazy," she told the magazine of her longevity. "I don't do anything strenuous or too energetic."

Nothing, that is, except skydiving — and living life to its fullest right up until the end.

More on aging: Hiker Dies in Death Valley Hours After Doing Interview

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