Wilmette coronavirus: Wilmette woman born during Spanish flu dies from COVID-19 at age 101

WILMETTE, Ill. (WLS) -- Norma Bratschi Hoza turned 101 in February, a milestone she celebrated with her large family. Less than two months later, she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died on April 2, just days after going to the hospital.

"This is just four days of her life and just part of her story, and not her whole story," said Betsy Harootyan, her granddaughter.

And what a story it is. Hoza was born in Chicago in 1919 during the height of the Spanish flu epidemic. Her mother had come down with influenza while pregnant, but survived.

Hoza's family later moved to Wilmette, where her father started their family business, Bratschi Plumbing. She worked as a bookkeeper there, and remained a fixture over the years as she married her high school sweetheart and raised six sons.

Hoza's eldest admitted they were pretty wild at times.

"We had a lot of freedom, quite a bit, but we always knew we had our back whenever there was a problem," said Phil Hoza, son.

Hoza's family said she always kept herself busy, either with volunteering or entertaining friends. After moving to a residence for seniors, at one point she managed the convenience store in the building. She also embraced technology.

"We got her an iPad for her birthday, and she was learning to use that because the letters were bigger than on her cell phone," Hoza said.

That helped her keep up with her family, with emails and Facebook, since she and other residents were quarantined because of coronavirus. Still, she fell victim to COVID-19 and had a rapid decline.

"She had a good life and we're celebrating her life, and not mourning it," Phil Hoza said.

With Norma having so many loved ones, her family is observing social distancing rules and hold off on having a memorial service. They do hope to pay tribute to her in the near future
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