Guinness World Records said Bert Holbrook was oldest living man with Down syndrome.
Bert Holbrook, a southern Minnesota native who defied medical odds to become the world's oldest living man with Down syndrome, has died at age 83.
Holbrook died Wednesday night at his group home in Waseca, said nurse Pat Foley, who attributed his death to natural causes.
"He lived in that era when you'd expect him to only live into his 40s," Foley said.
In November 2008, Holbrook was listed by Guinness World Records as "currently the oldest fully authenticated male" with Down syndrome.
Foley said many people with Down syndrome succumb to heart problems at an early age or to complications from dementia, but Holbrook benefited from his family's history of longevity and advances in medical treatment. Currently, the average life expectancy is 55 years for a person with the syndrome, according to the National Association for Down Syndrome, with many living into their 60s and 70s
Holbrook was "very charismatic and always smiled, and he smiled with his full face," Foley said.
"He took it as it came and smiled through it all."
Foley had been Holbrook's nurse for more than 20 years. "He is part of my family," she said. "There were many holidays when he would come to my home."
Holbrook was born in Waseca on Aug. 24, 1928, and lived his entire life in the area -- in a group home since 1984. As a youngster, he helped on the family farm as the "best mink skinner in Waseca County," Foley said.
His parents have long since died, and his only sibling, a sister, died less than two months ago.
People around Waseca knew Holbrook, who was allowed as an adult to stand beside the Waseca High School marching band director and help lead the musicians at football games, Foley said.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development, according to the National Association for Down Syndrome. It occurs in one in every 691 live births.
The Guinness website currently lists the oldest woman living with Down syndrome as Joyce Greenman of suburban London, who was born on March 14, 1925.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482