A 116-year-old, who was believed to have been the world’s oldest man, passed away in South Africa this week. He died due to natural causes at the Tygerberg hospital in Cape Town, his family told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The man, named Fredie Blom, was born in Adelaide, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, on May 8, 1904, according to his official documents. Blom’s life was paved with many hardships. He watched his entire family succumb to the Spanish flu in 1918, when he was merely a teenager, BBC reported.
For most of his life he worked as a labourer — first on a farm and later on construction sites — until he finally retired when he was in his 80s. Blom raised three children with Jeanette, his wife of 46 years. The couple also has five grandchildren.
“He was a strong man, full of pride,” his grandson Andre Naidoosaid recalled in an interview with AFP. “Two weeks ago oupa (grandfather) was still chopping wood.” But when his condition suddenly began to drastically deteriorate in recent days, his family saw him shrink “from a big man to a small person”, Naidoosaid said.
In an interview with the BBC two years ago, Blom said that he had lived this long only “because of God’s grace”. “There’s only one thing — it’s the man above [God]. He’s got all the power. I have nothing. I can drop over any time but He holds me,” he had earlier said.
Blom’s record of being the oldest man alive was not verified by the Guinness World of Records.The title was earlier held by a Jamaican woman, named Violet Moss-Brown, who passed away at the age of 117 on September 15, 2017.