x

Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

107-year-old celebrates birthday after beating COVID-19

Rudi Heiber was born before both world wars and lived through the Spanish flu epidemic. Now, he's celebrating turning 107 by beating COVID-19.

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — He might be one of the oldest survivors of COVID-19, having just recovered from the virus days ago. But that doesn't even begin to tell the story of Rudolph "Rudi" Heider. 

Rudi Heider has been through more than most, if not all, of us have our entire lives. And after beating COVID-19 Wednesday, he turned 107 years old.

"How do you feel being 107 years old?" 5 On Your Side's Brandon Merano asked the centenarian. 

"Like I'm 170," Rudy said.

Even after 107 years, Rudi has never lost his sense of humor or his love for his family.

"She's very special, the only granddaughter I had died in a head-on collision with another car," explained Rudi about his grandson's wife, Jan.

"I think Grandpa is amazing," Jan Heiber said. 

From that time on, Rudi had a granddaughter again.

"Having unconditional love, that's Grandpa," Jan said.

That same unconditional love was shown to Rudy on his birthday Wednesday, a celebration not just of 107 years, but also a full recovery from COVID-19.

The day was topped off with a visit from his son.

"I speak to him once a week at least," Rudi said.

"He taught me the idea of working hard and trying to achieve," his son Robert said.

Graduating high school in 1931, Rudi has achieved a lot in his life. Born before any of the world wars, Rudy even survived the Spanish flu and a challenging last seven years. 

"He had a stroke at 100, then he breaks his C3 and C4 vertebrae trying to learn ballroom dancing for his girlfriend, then he gets COVID-19?" asked 5 On Your Side's Brandon Merano.

"Yes, he has lived quite a life out here and that's just retirement," Robert said.

Wednesday, one final birthday gift, a song from his granddaugther Jan who lives in Seattle. It's one she sings every time she comes to see him.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey, you'll never know dear how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away," Jan sang.

Related Stories

RELATED: After losing his mother, New York man donates her wheelchair to help a neighbor in need

RELATED: Father almost dies from COVID-19, but daughter says he improved after encouraging him through FaceTime

RELATED: 'I knew they were a special class' | Graduating seniors surprise principal with parade in Alton

RELATED: 'There were many happy tears' | 13-year-old gets new kidney after 8 years of dialysis, waiting

RELATED: COVID-19 patient at Mercy Hospital South heads home on his birthday

RELATED: ‘A little kindness can change the world’ | 10-year-old donates more than 200 gift cards to Chesterfield police officers