107-year-old man who holds world record for oldest skydiver shares his longevity secrets

'Life's what you make it,' says the 107-year-old.

Courtesy Al Blaschke

Ever since he retired, Alfred Blaschke admits he’s been feeling jumpy. After more than 40 years doing work he loved, he was determined to make the next phase of his life as fulfilling.

The 107-year-old recently broke the record (again) for being the oldest person to skydive, he bowls and he sings. His life has always been full, and he has no intention of giving up the happiness that’s sustained him for so long. As he says, “it isn’t fun getting old. You have to make fun.”

Making fun Blaschke's way requires a few things: a daredevil spirit, a family you adore, good health and a bit of luck. For more than a century, it’s paid off. “Things happen for the good all the time without me being the cause of it,” Blaschke tells “It just happened. It’s just been that kind of a life.”

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Blaschke celebrating his most recent birthday. (Courtesy Dave Blaschke)

While golfing in 2014, Blaschke's friend mentioned he was going skydiving and asked if he wanted to come along. “So, I told him I would think about it,” says Blaschke. “I did think about it, and I said, ‘Al, you’re 97, what do you want to jump now for? Wait until you’re 100 to jump.’ That’s a really good reason, so that’s what I did.”

To hold himself accountable, he told anyone who'd listen about his plan, but he didn’t need to. “As I got closer to my 100th birthday, I couldn’t wait. I wanted to jump much sooner. I wanted to see what it felt like,” he recalls.

But the thing is skydivers are beholden to the weather, and the forecast wasn't looking good for Jan. 4, 2017. But the night before, Blaschke got a call that the jump would go ahead as planned. “It was a little bit chillier than it should have been,” he recalls, “but they knew I wasn’t going to jump at all (if it couldn’t happen on my birthday).”

By the time Blaschke's feet hit the ground, he’d already planned his next one. “I have twin grandsons, and I told people on my 100th birthday, right after my jump, I told them I would jump again when my twin grandsons graduate from college, and so I did that.”

His second jump, three years after the first, Blaschke says, is the most special because it’s tied to family. It also got him the world record for oldest person to tandem skydive (meaning he was connected to a skydiving instructor).

He did his third and most recent jump with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, on Nov. 27, 2023, when he was 106. “That came about because I met him a year before that and told him I was the oldest man (to skydive) and so he said he would jump with me,” says Blaschke. This jump allowed Blaschke to reclaim his record as the oldest skydiver, which someone had taken since his last jump.

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Blaschke and Gov. Greg Abbott going skydiving. (Courtesy Dave Blaschke)

“I think as far as I know, I won’t be jumping anymore,” Blaschke says. Not because he’s not in shape to, but because he’s scratched that itch and he's on to the next. He's interested in landing a role in a theater production — “you never know,” he says.

“People all the time say, ‘What helped you get to 107?’ I don’t know. I’m just doing what I did all year, all my life, and things just went good for me. And I enjoyed a very good life, and that’s the way it is,” says Blaschke. “I could live it again without making any changes, I really could.”

Here are a few of the life lessons that Blaschke credits for his contented longevity.

Cherish your family

Blaschke was born on Jan. 4, 1917, in Janesville, Wisconsin. In 1924, his family moved to Milwaukee. He recalls a big house with three bedrooms on each floor for him, his six siblings and parents. When his father left his mother at the start of the Great Depression, his brother left, too. The rest of the family moved upstairs while his mother rented the first floor for cash. “It was a tough time for my mother.”

So, Blaschke kickstarted his career with a paper route to help his family. “I think I made like $5 a week. Back in those days, that was pretty good,” says Blaschke. “Everybody didn’t make $5.”

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Blaschke with two of his three grandsons. (Courtesy Dave Blaschke)

Blaschke eventually left Wisconsin for Indiana, then Arizona, and now he's in Texas, but Wisconsin's still on his mind. “I would like to be there now, as a matter of fact,” but the weather keeps him south.

Thankfully, there’s a Blaschke family reunion coming up. They hold one every other year in Wisconsin. “I’m going to get there this July," says Blaschke. He expects between 75 and 90 family members to show up.  “I have five sisters, each one of them had three children, and most of them boys and so there’s a lot of Blaschke's out there.”

Fill your days with work you love

After his paper route, Blaschke landed a three-year apprenticeship as a tool and die maker in South Bend, Indiana. He held that job for the next 40 years. After that, he was a salesman in the same field.

“A tool and die maker was recognized as a top trade all over the country,” which bolstered his sense of pride in a job he loved, Blaschke explains.

Fall in love in your own time

While making sales along the east coast, he met Eleanor — Ellie to Blaschke. They had one son.

“Without that, my life would have been pretty empty. She was just absolutely fantastic. Absolutely,” Blaschke says. “She was from New Jersey, and I met her while was doing sales work and she was with me for 49 years — the best 49 years of my life.”

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Blaschke with his late wife, Eleanor, who was "just unbelievable." (Courtesy Dave Blaschke)

This was a second marriage for both Blaschke and Eleanor, and she died in 2010, “right on our 49th anniversary,” he says. “We didn’t figure that we’d have 50 because it was a second one for both of us. We’d never figured on 50 years, but 49 was plenty close enough.”

“I’ll tell ya — there was no way a woman could be so all-around everything,” says Blaschke. “She was smart, she graduated, she got awards for the top marks in school, and then she loved sports, all kinds of sports, and that was right up my alley.”

Find the joys in life

While Blaschke doesn’t think he’ll skydive again, he fills his days with other activities. “Life’s what you make it,” he says.

“I like to sing,” Blaschke reveals. “I sing a lot, play music on the TV and do a lot of singing. And I’m a lover of the stage.”

He’s worked shows including “Oklahoma!” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” helping with sets until he landed the men’s lead in a show. These days, he thinks he might give it a shot again. If they’ll have him, he’d take on a role as long as it called for someone forgetful.

Blaschke also loves bowling, something he does with his three grandsons. He may not look like he can keep up, but “my body is probably like a 70-year-old’s. It’s in terrific shape,” says Blaschke. “I get the rhythm and balance as I bend to make the throw, and I could probably keep bowling for quite a while,” he adds.

He says people should practice the things they love. “You can keep doing it for a lot longer than you think you can,” he says. “If you do something and do it regularly, you can go on for almost forever.”

Take life year by year

Blaschke admits he doesn’t have any goals right now. But “if (life) goes on, I won’t complain. If it goes on another 10 years. I won’t make any adjustments of any kind, so we’ll see.”

Keep smiling

Blaschke writes "keep smiling," his motto, on all his correspondence. “That’s what I want everybody to do.”

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