Parma native breaks Guinness World Record as the oldest person living with dwarfism

Posted at 3:16 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 20:51:08-04

Winifred Ann Kelley, 93, has claimed the Guinness World Record for the oldest person living with dwarfism.

At 3'8" tall the Parma native never considered herself a dwarf until her friend, Mary Beth Petro, mentioned it right before Kelley’s 90th birthday. The two ladies met more than seven years ago when Petro worked with a caregiving referral agency. 

Nurses and doctors alike are surprised with Kelley’s longevity. She reads mysteries, spy stories, biographies, or religious texts every day for 6 hours, but she primarily attributes her health to her “marvelous friends.”

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "dwarfism itself is not a disease. However, there is a greater risk of some health problems. With proper medical care, most people with dwarfism have active lives and live as long as other people."

Record-breaking process

One of the things Kelley had to prove to qualify was for a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic to declare her a dwarf. An adult under 4’10” is considered a dwarf according to

For four years, Petro kept at it— sending the required paperwork that continued to be misplaced until finally the ladies heard back.

“It was such a surprise when it happened and I couldn’t believe that this is possible and then all of a sudden, there it was,” Kelley laughed.

Kelley's Everyday Routine

8:30 a.m. - Eats Stouffer’s turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes
11 a.m.- Reads for six hours (but it can be eight to nine hours, according to Petro)
2-3 p.m.- Eats peanut crackers and drinks water
5-6 p.m.- Eats half of turkey and cheese sandwich on wheat bread and bunch of blueberries
7:30 p.m.- Typically in bed watching Golden Girls

The company of friends

From the beginning, Kelley and Petro clicked, so when Petro was looking for a room to rent for three months, Kelley offered her place. Those three months turned into years of friendship. 

“She told me what her needs were, that she wanted to stay in her home, and I promised her she could,” Petro said. 

Kelley never married, but she met people in every stage of life. She traveled with some of those friends around Europe— to cities like Berlin, Dublin, London, Paris, and the Vatican. She wishes she could travel now a days, but she enjoys the company of friends like Petro.

“She’s like a great, great aunt to me. Words can’t even explain the unconditional love we have for each other.”--Mary Beth Petro

“We’re very lucky to have found each other in life,” Petro said. She also mentioned the idea of writing a book about their friendship in the near future.